This week in politics
This week Westminster was in shock following the terrorist attack on Wednesday, which left five dead, including the suspected attacker, and police officer Keith Palmer.
After Parliament was in lockdown on Wednesday with MPs locked in the Chamber for a number of hours, they defiantly returned to resume the planned business of the House on Thursday morning.
Respects have been paid by the Prime Minister and numerous MPs since the attack, with Theresa May leading tributes during a statement to the Commons on Thursday. Braintree MP James Cleverly gave a particularly moving speech, having first met PC Palmer 25 years ago as Gunner Keith Palmer at the Royal Artillery HQ.
Given that both Houses sat as planned yesterday and today, Intelex will be carrying on business as usual as well.
The Week in Numbers
The week that was
Theresa May announced that she will invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on March 29th by sending a letter to the President of the European Council Donald Tusk declaring Britain’s intention to leave the EU. May said the letter, which she described as ‘one of the most important documents in our country’s recent history’, would be a substantial statement of the UK’s intentions and would ‘set the tone for our new relationship with Europe and the world’. Much to the disappointment of lobby journalists who had bubbled with excited speculation over the weekend, Downing Street also confirmed there would be no General Election until 2020.
Two independent reports were released this week bringing gloom and disappointment to anybody below their mid-forties and dreaming of retirement long before their 70s. Former CBI director-general John Cridland’s independent report for DWP called for the state pension age to rise to 68 over a two-year period starting in 2037 and ending in 2039. A second report from the Government Actuary’s Department suggested that the state pension age for anybody aged below 30 would rise to 70.
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson began the week demanding that Len McCluskey, the General Secretary of Unite the Union, explain the meaning of a secret recording of him claiming that Unite would fund an expansion of Momentum if he is elected to the role. In response, McCluskey said Watson lives in a ‘world of skulduggery’.
Elsewhere, Labour announced that MEP Afzal Khan has been selected to stand for Labour in the Manchester Gorton by-election to succeed the late Sir Gerald Kaufman. In an unexpected twist, George Galloway announced that he would stand as an independent candidate.
On the benches
MPs cooking up a storm
On Tuesday this week MPs and peers demonstrated their culinary skills in a parliamentary bake off for Comic Relief. It’s fair to stay that some of the creations left much to be desired and we remain particularly concerned about the ‘rampant rabbit’ design created by Tim Loughton. In the end, Iain Murray secured a rare win for Scottish Labour, pulling into first place with his ‘rabbit in a bed.’
Business questions this week was buzzing when Labour MP Diana Johnson called for a debate on the honours system saying that a constituent of hers, Jean Bishop aged 94, dressed up in a bee costume to raise money for Age UK. Johnson noted that despite being nominated for an honour on several occasions Ms. Bishop was yet to receive one. Perhaps it’s the hive mentality of the Honours Committee that stops her from getting one?
These people round here…
Things got comical in PMQs when Jeremy Corbyn raised the issue of Eileen, a teacher who had complained about the lack of funding for education. This led to calls from the government benches of ‘oh come on Eileen!’ and ‘What about Eileen?!’ This led to the Speaker intervening to calm the chamber, saying that members must quieten in order to hear the Prime Minister’s response to Eileen, all to the amusement of the chamber. Needless to say Corbyn was left red faced throughout the whole ordeal.
Tweet of the Week
‘Next Wednesday, the Government will deliver on the UK’s decision and formally start the process by triggering Article 50. We are on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation’ – Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis’ comments upon the announcement Article 50 will be triggered on March 29th.
‘If we do not address uncertainties and put off difficult subjects to the end of the negotiations, we will be headed for failure’. – European Chief Negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier.
‘There is an inherent trade-off between liberalising trade and the exercise of sovereignty’ – House of Lords report into ‘Brexit: trade in non-financial services’ released this week.