Week ahead in Parliament

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Looking at the parliamentary agenda for the week ahead, it's hard to avoid the idea that the government's main priority was to avoid any flashpoints in the run-up to the party conference season; there's a lot of heavy duty Brexit legislation to be done, but the Commons, in particular will hold general debates on assorted issues, while the promised bills on migration and agriculture and much else are nowhere to be seen.

So, as with this week, any Westminster dramas will have to come from urgent questions or ministerial statements: "events, dear boy, events..."

Perhaps the one to watch is the Trade Bill in the House of Lords - not so much for this Tuesday's second reading debate, but for the detailed debate which will follow later in the autumn; the pro-EU majority in the Upper House will almost certainly attach an amendment requiring the UK to join a customs union with the EU (and probably many other amendments, too) and send it back the Commons, so forcing a vote on a highly contentious issue at what may well prove to be a critical moment in the progress of Brexit.

And keep an eye on the two Labour MPs "no confidence" by their local parties; Joan Ryan and Gavin Shuker. They probably won't be the last, so what will they do? Resign their seats or the Labour whip?

Here's my rundown of the week ahead:

Monday 10 September

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Why MPs are talking about their seats

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Whether you're talking about the national balance of electoral power or the fates of individual MPs, the forthcoming report by the four boundary commissions (for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) are set to have a huge impact on politics.

Today, Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom told MPs the reports will be available from Monday 10 September.

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Week ahead in Parliament

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The bells will sound and the doors will be thrown open, but the start of the new parliamentary term will not see eager refreshed MPs crowding back to Westminster to grapple with the challenges which await them.

Rather the reverse.

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Can Theresa May's Travolta/Micawber strategy last?

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MPs and Peers should make the most of their summer holidays; when they return to Westminster on Tuesday, 4 September the tensions will be rising because critical Brexit decisions loom, and the hung Parliament of 2017 is becoming ever more precariously balanced.

There are now at least three Conservative parties and three Labour parties - and the widening cracks in party loyalties suggest that the fragmentation is only just beginning.

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Week ahead in Parliament

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It's the last two days before the summer recess - and the agenda looks pretty light as the parliamentarians coast towards their holiday break, so light, indeed, that the government attempted to cancel this week's sitting altogether.

But as readers of this blog will know, the agenda available the week before may not flag up unexpected dramas, and after the turmoil of the last couple of weeks, it is far from impossible that there may be a grand operatic finale to a turbulent couple of months.

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Week ahead in Parliament

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Does the Government have a Commons majority anymore?

Next week we will see the first post-Chequers test of whether disgruntled Brexiteer Tories, deeply unhappy with what they see as the PM's soft-boiled version of leaving the EU, will still toe the party line.

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Week ahead in Parliament

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The outcome of the government's Chequers meeting on Brexit will shape the political and parliamentary week ahead.

If the discussions produce a white paper on future customs arrangements which Conservative MPs can unite around, then the febrile atmosphere of the last few weeks should evaporate.

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Week ahead in Parliament

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For once this week's Commons agenda is focused not on Brexit but on the detail of government spending.

Monday and Tuesday are taken up with Estimates day debates which will allow MPs the rare opportunity of probing ministers' spending plans - and with vast pressure on public spending, and the announcement that, having found £20bn for health and social care, the government had no money for anything else, these debates will offer a chance for MPs to highlight the funding problems across public services.

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Week ahead in Parliament

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A quieter, but not rebellion free, week awaits the denizens of Westminster, as MPs take a break from Brexit battles, to vote on allowing an extra runway at London's Heathrow Airport instead.

I had wondered if, fresh from their triumph this week, the Conservatives whips would seize the moment and bring forward the long-postponed report stage consideration of the Trade Bill, where the Conservative Anna Soubry has been poised to push an amendment to require the government to seek "A" customs union with the EU.

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Game playing in Westminster infuriates viewers

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Image caption Sir Christopher Chope's objection to the progress of the bill has caused a storm

I wonder if the problem is that some MPs, indeed some in positions of power, have simply not cottoned onto the fact that many more people now watch their debates?

Once upon a time the joke was that in the Commons Chamber, no-one can hear you scream.

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