Week Ahead (21 October)
Monday 21 October, Government to attempt to have its Brexit deal approved in Westminster
The weekend’s developments set up another blockbuster week for Brexit. Firstly, at the Court of Session in Edinburgh around midday, Remain campaigners are expected to argue that Johnson’s extension request and accompanying documents has breached the spirit of the Benn amendment which mandated an extension request as well as a court order not to frustrate the process.
The House of Commons Order Paper for today shows the government will seek a meaningful vote on its Brexit deal again. However, the Speaker of the Commons John Bercow may not allow this on the grounds that HMG already tried getting this motion through Parliament on Saturday, when it was amended by parliament via the Letwin amendment.
Assuming Bercow does not allow a ‘meaningful vote’ this afternoon, MPs will get their first say on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill itself tomorrow with votes on the “program motion” setting out how quickly the government wants to push the agreement through parliament scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. A second reading vote would follow which gives MPs the opportunity to debate possible amendments which will centre around committing the UK to a customs union, something Labour supports, extending transitional arrangements with the UK to prevent the UK crashing out in 2020, something former Chancellor Philip Hammond supports, and a second referendum.
w/c Monday 21 October, MEPs gather in Strasbourg but vote on Von Der Leyen Commission postponed
After the rejection of French designated Commissioner Sylvie Goulard, along with the Romanian and Hungarian nominees, next week’s European Parliament plenary session will not have a confirmatory vote on the Von Der Leyen Commission, as originally scheduled. This was a blow to Von der Leyen who may face a challenge from within the EPP and whose college of commissioners will be unable to take office until 1 December at the earliest.
Thursday 24 October, Draghi to oversee his final ECB Governing Council monetary policy meeting
EU Heads of State last week signed off on Christine Lagarde taking over the ECB from 1 November. On Thursday Mario Draghi will oversee his final monetary policy meeting. Having unleashed the proverbial bazooka in September, to unprecedented rancour within the Governing Council, Draghi is unlikely to announce further policy action. The ECB’s latest bank lending survey will be published two days prior to the GC meeting, while its quarterly data on debt and deficit levels among Eurozone member states comes the day before. Draghi is likely to take the opportunity to once again urge Eurozone Member States, read Germany, to loosen fiscal restraints in order to help return the Eurozone economy to growth.