Government Facing Double Defeat in Commons Today

The Government is facing at least two probable defeats in the Commons today, as Labour go on the attack over Brexit legal advice and a rebellion over the timing of cutting the FOBT maximum stake looms. Add to that another battle over Brexit impact assessments…

Keir Starmer is using Labour’s opposition day debate to try to use a ‘humble address’ to force the government to reveal the full legal advice it has received on the proposed Brexit deal. The picture has been complicated by an ERG amendment to their motion – backed by Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker – which instead calls only for a “full, reasoned position statement laying out the government’s political and legal position”. Which would give the Government a lot more wriggle room, raising suspicions of a backroom compromise…

On the Finance Bill, a cross-party group of 70 MPs led by Iain Duncan Smith and Carolyn Harris will table an amendment calling for the FOBT maximum stake reduction to be brought forward to April 2019 – the issue which led to Sports Minister Tracy Crouch’s resignation two weeks ago. With over 20 Tories, including Boris Johnson and Rees-Mogg, and several DUP MPs already signatories the amendment, the Government is heading for certain defeat on the issue. A climbdown looks inevitable – raising the question of why they didn’t simply change their position earlier and avoid losing another minister…

The Government has yet another headache over a further amendment to the Finance Bill, tabled by Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry with support from 9 Tory rebels, which calls for them to publish economic impact assessments comparing their proposed deal to remaining in the EU outright, as well as to a ‘no deal’ scenario which they have already committed to do. Given Whitehall’s track record on Brexit forecasting, these are not likely to be particularly enlightening, but the arithmetic will be extremely tight if the Labour frontbench decide to get behind it…

And then there’s just the small matter of the Cabinet meeting this morning after a fresh meeting of ‘pizza club’ last night, with worried ministers including Raab, Leadsom, Gove and Cox this time meeting for warm white wine in Liam Fox’s office. Should be a quiet day…




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Quote of the Day

Former Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King…

“There are arguments for remaining in the EU and there are arguments for leaving the EU. But there is no case whatever for giving up the benefits of remaining without obtaining the benefits of leaving.”

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