Two amendments of seven on Brexit deal passes
On Monday, seven amendments to the EU withdrawal agreement were put to the House of Commons, one of which passed. The Brady amendment motioned will instruct the government to go back to the European Union to renegotiate the Backstop, the transitional arrangement in the years after Brexit. The Spelmen amendment was the second to pass, which makes a non-legally-binding promise to avoid a No Deal.
The other amendments included one by the Labour Party wanting the government to rule out a No Deal completely, whilst pushing for some kind of customs union, the Yvette Cooper amendment, which would extend Article 50 (delaying Brexit), and the Dominic Grieve amendment, which would allow parliament to “take control” and propose solutions in indicative votes. They all failed narrowly.
The only majority the government has is to make a wooly commitment to making some kind of deal before the UK leaves the EU in two months time and to go back to the EU to renegotiate the Backstop arrangement which maintains a soft border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
EU not interested in renegotiating Backstop
Despite the vote this week, the EU is still certain there can be no further negotiation regarding the Backstop, and this is their final offer. They worry that the UK, through the soft Irish border, will be able to access the single market by the back door. Brexiteers worry the Backstop keeps the UK in the EU in all but name.
Parliament recess canceled
Parliament’s regular “half-term” recess is likely to be canceled in order to have enough time for renegotiations and votes before the EU withdrawal on the 31st March. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said that if there is not enough time to get into law the necessary legislation required for a deal, then Article 50 may have to be delayed.
Oi lad, got a license for that butter knife?
Home Secretary Sajid Javid is implementing rules that could apply to anyone aged 12 or over suspected of routinely carrying knives. They will be subject to ASBO-style rules that limit their social media use and geographical runaround. This comes after a rise in violent crime in general as well as amongst youth. This means someone as young as 12 could be subject to a two-year jail sentence.
No more masks at protests
The French National Assembly has banned the use of masks at political rallies and protests, as well as implementing a law that means certain individuals, “repeat offenders,” will be prevented from appearing at future rallies. This comes as the Yellow Vest movement protests have sparked debate about the proper use of police force during big protests.
Italy enters recession
The Italian economy went into recession in the last quarter of last year, and the decline is expected to continue in this quarter. This comes as the government struggles to meet its spending commitments because of EU resistance. The EU is experiencing sluggish growth itself, languishing below 1% GDP growth last quarter.
Standoff with migrant rescue boat ends
47 migrants stranded in a boat have finally been allowed to shore as they disembarked on the island of Sicily this week. Matteo Salvini (the nationalist interior minister we talked about last week) accused the philanthropic Sea Watch of aiding illegal immigration. The British crew claims that the migrants were used as slaves in Libya and are suffering from PTSD.
You can read more from James Smith on Think Liberty here.