News diary 14-20 January: MPs to finally vote on PM’s Brexit withdrawal agreement and Australian Open begins

Foresight News provides a look-ahead to the key events that need to be in your news diary for next week… 

The penultimate day of debate on Theresa May’s Brexit deal takes place in the House of Commons on Monday when Cabinet heavyweights Liam Fox and Philip Hammond will attempt to persuade backbench MPs of the merits of the Prime Minister’s deal in discussions on “Global UK” and the economy.

Meanwhile, in Westminster Hall seven Brexit-related e-petitions will be debated after attracting over 100,000 signatures each. The petitions cover leaving the EU without a deal, holding a second referendum, and one which demands simply that the Government stop Brexit.

Before the debate gets underway in the Commons, Dominic Raab sets out his “economic vision” for the UK after it leaves the EU in a speech to the Centre for Policy Studies think tank in London.

The former Brexit Secretary is among favourites to become the next Conservative leader should a vacancy arise, and, having previously refused to rule out the prospect of running for the leadership, the timing and subject of his speech today will have been noted with interest by former Cabinet colleagues.

The first tennis Grand Slam of the year begins in Melbourne and British interests were dealt a blow before the first match with Andy Murray’s dramatic announcement that he would retire this year due to his ongoing struggles with injury.

In a press conference last week, an emotional Murray (pictured) said the Australian Open could be his last tournament, so fans will hope the former Wimbledon winner can overcome recent poor form and a tough-looking draw to go out on a high.

Barring another last-minute change of heart in Downing Street, MPs finally get to vote on the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement on Tuesday. Absent a wholesale revolt by Labour MPs, the numbers are against Theresa May, and chances of the arithmetic changing significantly before voting begins at around 7pm appear slim.

If the vote is lost, as expected, the Prime Minister’s next steps will be crucial, though after Dominic Grieve’s amendment was controversially accepted last week there will be little time to produce changes to the deal that would be substantial enough to satisfy the various factions and result in a different outcome in a second vote.

The first of two heavyweight sessions for the Treasury committee this week sees Financial Conduct Authority chief executive Andrew Bailey and chair Charles Randell questioned on the regulator’s work. Last week’s headline-making announcements from the FCA on mortgages and investment advice should feature among topics discussed.

Then on Wednesday the committee hears from Mark Carney on the Bank of England’s financial stability report. Published last November alongside the Bank’s annual stress test results, the report predicted dire consequences for the UK economy in the event of a no-deal Brexit and was followed by specific warnings from the Governor that business and infrastructure were still not ready for the UK’s exit from the EU.

A further warning in December’s interest rate decision about the intensification of Brexit uncertainty should give Carney’s committee nemesis Jacob Rees-Mogg plenty of material for today’s session.

This week’s session of Prime Minister’s Questions will be raucous whatever the result of Tuesday’s vote, but after weeks of equivocation it could also see the Labour leadership show their hand and put forward the long-mooted motion of no confidence in Theresa May’s government.

Members of the Shadow Cabinet appeared to suggest a motion would be tabled immediately if the vote went against May, though in a speech in Yorkshire last week Jeremy Corbyn committed only to tabling a motion when Labour judged it to have the best chance of success and lead to his desired outcome of a general election.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon appears for her weekly session of FMQs in Holyrood on Thursday, answering questions for the first time since the Commons vote.

Sturgeon has been vociferous in her opinion that the handling of our departure from the European Union has strengthened the case for Scottish independence, and she has also teased an imminent announcement on a timetable. A Commons defeat on the Brexit deal could lead to such an announcement coming sooner rather than later.

Also on Thursday, England Rugby head coach Eddie Jones announces his squad for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations Championship in a press conference at Twickenham.

A difficult start to the year for the high street is likely to be compounded on Friday with the release of UK retail sales figures. The British Retail Consortium has already warned that the festive period was the worst for UK businesses since 2008, with retail giants Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, and Sainsburys all reporting sizeable drops in sales.

With chains such as Toys R Us, Maplin, and Poundworld having failed in the last 12 months alone, more bad news could prove to be a bridge too far for a number of struggling retailers.

Three people are due to be sentenced for murder at Leicester Crown Court following an explosion in the city that killed five people last year. Aram Kurd, Arkan Ali, and Hawkar Hassan were found guilty last month of deliberately setting fire to a shop, with a subsequent explosion causing the deaths of Viktorija Ijevkeva, Mary Ragoobeer, Shane and Sean Ragoobeer, and Leah Reek.

Friday also marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Paris Peace Conference, which culminated with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer takes centre stage on Saturday as he delivers the keynote address at the Fabian Society’s New Year conference.

If Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement is voted down by MPs as expected on Tuesday, Starmer’s recent claims of a delay to Britain’s exit from the European Union will be undeniably strengthened. Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry and Labour deputy leader Tom Watson are also scheduled to appear.

Boxing legend Manny Pacquiao returns to the ring to take on Adrien Broner for the WBA welterweight title in Las Vegas. The fight is Pacquiao’s 70th as a professional, though the Philippines senator already has his sights set on his next bout later in the year: a potential rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Sunday is the second anniversary of Donald Trump taking the oath of office to become President of the United States. It marks the halfway point of Trump’s first term in the White House, though celebrations will be tempered by the third week of a federal shutdown.

President Trump has upped the ante as his 24th month in office approaches, saying he plans to declare a national emergency if funding for his Mexican border wall – a key campaign promise – is not forthcoming.

The penultimate round of the NFL season also takes place with the AFC and NFC Championship games. The winners face each other at the Super Bowl in Atlanta on 3 February.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth/File Photo

The post News diary 14-20 January: MPs to finally vote on PM’s Brexit withdrawal agreement and Australian Open begins appeared first on Press Gazette.

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