Business of the House

Part of Whorlton Hall – in the House of Commons at 11:03 am on 23rd May 2019.

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Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution), Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee, Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons, Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee 11:03 am, 23rd May 2019

I thank the hon. Gentleman for announcing the business for the week that we come back. May I too wish you, Philippa, all the very best in your retirement. Enjoy yourself. You deserve it.

I was not sure whether there would even be a business statement this morning and it is certainly a novelty to have business questions without a Leader of the House, but may I start by wishing Andrea Leadsom all the best? I enjoyed our banter on Thursday mornings. I think we will all miss her good-natured and convivial approach at business questions. I think we should all thank her for the very determined leadership she offered on a whole range of issues across the House, from tackling bullying and sexual harassment to proxy voting for baby leave. We wish her all the best.

I, Mr Speaker, will now be going on to my fourth Leader of the House in four years. I am looking forward to seeing who will be at the Dispatch Box when we return, but it has to be asked: who would want the job? We have a Prime Minister hanging on by her fingertips, barricaded into No. 10, and a Government collapsing around her ears, as we speak.

Just what on earth is this so-called business for the week after next? We were promised the withdrawal agreement Bill on the Tuesday and Wednesday that we return. Unless it has been renamed the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill, which was always quite likely, I am afraid I do not see it anywhere in the business statement. Can the temporary Leader of the House tell us when we will see the withdrawal agreement Bill? I heard him say something about a Friday, which I did not quite understand. Perhaps he can flesh that out a little, because the House wants to know when and if we are going to have it.

The business is all Backbench business. They should make my friend Ian Mearns the new Leader of the House, given that the Government are taking all their business to him. He would make a very good job of it, too. [Interruption.] He says, “Taking coals to Newcastle”—indeed. What is intriguing about the withdrawal agreement Bill is that it seems to offer the prospect of a second referendum. The Tories in Scotland are running around today saying that they are the party that is resolutely against any future referendums, so what has happened with the withdrawal agreement Bill is that the Government have deprived these one-trick ponies of their one trick.

It is hard to believe that we are having an EU election today, but the Government should be commended for one thing: the Tories’ attempts to make sure that no one votes for them look like being extremely successful. But in Scotland it is entirely different: people can vote to keep Scotland in the European Union and to make our decisions for ourselves—and they will get that when they vote SNP today.