There is little prospect of a blissful drift into the Christmas break as Brexit continues to dominated the headlines and parliamentary schedules. Natalie Mauchline looks at the week ahead.
Gridlock continues in Westminster. Theresa May returned from the European Council Summit empty handed, as the EU27 reiterated their unwillingness to renegotiate the Brexit agreement. She made a statement this afternoon in the Commons and announced the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement will take place at some point during the week of Monday 14 January. This Wednesday will mark 100 days until the UK is scheduled to leave the EU, placing further pressure on the Conservative Government.
Following last week’s failed no-confidence vote from the Conservatives, Labour is facing growing pressure from the SNP and other parties at Westminster to call a parliamentary no-confidence vote against the Government. Prior to the Prime Minister’s statement, Labour sources briefed reporters that Jeremy Corbyn would table a motion in the absence of a firm date for the rescheduled vote on the Withdrawal Agreement but there was no mention of this proposal in his response. Nicola Sturgeon was reportedly still considering the idea but has said it would be far more likely to succeed with the backing of the official opposition. Labour is unwilling to table the motion until it is guaranteed to win.
The role of EU citizens in Scotland and preparations for exiting the EU will be debated in the Scottish Parliament. On Tuesday, Michael Russell will brief members on the Scottish Government’s preparations for Scotland leaving the EU. A topic of much discussion across Parliament has been the impact of fewer EU migrants on the Scottish economy. The SNP has expressed concern that the fee EU migrants will have to pay following Brexit will have a fundamental effect on Scotland’s public services. The issue will be debated on Wednesday.
The Scottish Budget has been met with mixed feelings from opposition parties and stakeholders. Derek Mackay will give evidence to the Economy, Energy & Fair Work Committee on Tuesday as part of its business support inquiry. The budget will also be addressed in meetings of the Equality & Human Rights Committee and the Finance & Constitution Committee. Derek Mackay has continued to make the case for his Budget following its publication last week, insisting that MSPs should back his plans to provide Scotland with economic stability. During FMQs last week, Nicola Sturgeon welcomed spending suggestions from other political parties if they could make a viable case for cutting funding elsewhere.
The Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee will continue to take evidence on the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill on Wednesday. The panel for this week’s meeting includes officials from Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and VisitScotland. During previous sessions, the Committee has discussed ways the new agency can reconnect the south of Scotland with the rest of the country and make it a more attractive place for young people to live.