Week ahead

Schoolboys make their way to class at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys Image copyright Getty Images

The torch of government has been passed to a new generation of ministers and all kinds of policies are changing.

Next week's political highlight looks likely to be the unveiling of the government's new policy on grammar schools (see Monday) but there will be plenty of other areas in which MPs will want to quiz the new Cabinet team on which previous policies remain operative.

And there will be vast (self) interest in the Commons on the unfolding of one particular previous policy - that of reducing the size of the Commons.

When the Boundary Commission unveils its proposals for the re-drawing of the map of parliamentary seats on Tuesday, it will become clear which MPs will have to fight for their political survival, and with whom. Previously amicable neighbours may suddenly become rivals as their seats are merged or abolished, with an unpredictable impact on party discipline across the House.

Here's my rundown of the week ahead.


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Who's in the chair?

Keith Vaz Image copyright HoC
Image caption A vacancy has arisen, following Keith Vaz's resignation as chair of the Home Affairs Committee

The departure of Keith Vaz means one of Parliament's plum jobs is up for grabs; as he demonstrated, the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee commands considerable influence and automatic media attention, and there is already speculation that a number of heavy hitters will go for it.

For now, the acting chair is the Conservative former minister, Tim Loughton (last seen leading Andrea Leadsom's march on Westminster, during the abortive Tory leadership campaign), but under the carve-up which dictates which party has the chairs of which committee, Mr Vaz's long-term replacement must be a Labour MP.

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Week ahead

Picture from 2002 of the Royal Navy"s Trident-class nuclear submarine Vanguard Image copyright PA

After the dizzying pace of events at Westminster in the three weeks since the referendum, exhausted MPs and peers are rather tottering to the end of term on Thursday.

But before they depart, there are a couple of major events lurking in the final week - the big one is the vote on building four new Trident submarines, to extend the life of Britain's nuclear deterrent.

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Soothing Brexiteers is the price to pay for party unity

Theresa May after Cabinet meeting Image copyright Getty Images

The Tory Brexiteers are pretty bruised. And soothing their contusions is now a necessary price for party unity.

Three weeks ago, when a Boris-Gove dream ticket seemed destined to take the reins of government, they looked like the new masters of the universe; then, one by one, their candidates to succeed David Cameron imploded - and now they see a prime minister who was on the Remain side in the referendum, and they wonder if their great Brexit triumph may now evaporate.

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Week ahead

Sir John Chilcot Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Tony Blair overstated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, sent ill-prepared troops into battle and had "wholly inadequate" plans for the aftermath, the UK's Iraq War inquiry said

It's Chilcot week - with major debates in both House of Parliament.

But elsewhere the sense of political limbo persists across Westminster, with a light legislative load, and much attention devoted to the leadership issues in both main parties.

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Week ahead

Flags Image copyright European Photopress Agency
Image caption The House of Lords will be debating the outcome of the EU referendum

Next week MPs will debate courts and tribunals fees, expressive arts subjects, online abuse and the UK's creative industries. But hang on a minute; isn't there some big subject missing?

On Tuesday and Wednesday, their Lordships have a full-dress, two-day debate on Brexit, with (so far) 122 peers down to speak; so many, in fact, that the House has decided on an early start, and will swing into action at 11.30am.

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EU referendum: does Parliament press the button?

Article 50 Image copyright Reuters

Who presses the button? When is the divorce petition filed?

Whatever the metaphor, the decision to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union, the one which provides for member states to withdraw, has emerged as the critical next step.

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View from Parliament: What happens next?

David Cameron announcing he will stand down Image copyright AFP
Image caption David Cameron is going, and the key decisions on Brexit will be taken by a new leader

What happens next? Everything at once.

We definitely have a Conservative leadership battle; we may well have a Labour one, as well. (The ever-helpful House of Commons Library has produced a very handy briefing on the rules.) The Scottish first minister has said a second independence referendum is now "highly likely".

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Week ahead

Miniature models depict both sides of the British EU debate during a demonstration in front of a miniature London's houses of parliament at the Mini-Europe park in Brussels Image copyright AP
Image caption Debate continues: miniature models depict both sides of the British EU debate in front of a miniature Houses of Parliament

This week's preview of next week's parliamentary action comes with a massive health warning: in the event of a victory for Leave in the EU referendum, much of what follows will probably be cancelled or rescheduled to make room for a series of statements and debates on the process for and ramifications of Brexit.

Some of them might even take place on a special Saturday sitting of the Commons, (the first since the Falklands War) if the prime minister so decides.

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The fear that MPs rarely talk about

Armed police officer at Westminster Image copyright AP

The phrase "out of touch political elite" trips too easily from certain commentariat keyboards.

It's a kind of all-purpose, good-for-all-occasions criticism of any politician. "They don't exactly replicate my views? Out of touch…."

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