Blog 17 Mar 2019Brexit was firmly back on the UK’s political agenda this week and by the Tuesday evening the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May totally lost control of Brexit after her revamped exit deal for the UK was defeated 391 (No) to 242 (Yes) by MPs in the House of Commons.

That said, by Thursday evening the UK Prime Minister was given a third opportunity to present her Brexit deal to the House of Commons on Tuesday next week.

She definitely has more lives than a cat…..

It is hard to believe that it is been nearly 1,000 days since the people of the UK voted to leave the European Union, and during this period the main UK political parties have destroyed themselves, and with only 16 days left before the UK is due to leave the EU on 29th March, it is fair to say that UK politics is in turmoil……

So what next, does the UK government go out for a “People’s Vote” or ”Second Referendum” for them to vote on the current deal being pushed so hard by the UK Prime Minister?

Unfortunately not, as that particular amendment in the House of Commons on Thursday received no more than 80 votes.

In the end MPs on Thursday night voted to ask the EU for a delay to Brexit until at least 30th June, but this will require the full ratification and agreement of all 27 EU Countries.

More important is the split within the UK government at the moment, as eight Cabinet Ministers voted against requesting an extension to Article 50 on Thursday evening.

So is a UK General Election inevitable now…….?

Anyway, back to the Isle of Man and my own activities and schedule this week…

In the office for normal time (8am) on Monday for what looks set to be a very busy week, both politically and personally.

The Tynwald Order Paper next week is massive and it should go into at least two days. So what is different about this month compared to previous months? Well this month there are several very important reports and motions being tabled at once, which require careful consideration and a considerable amount of reading, which will be in addition to everything else happening in the Departments and on a Constituent level this week.

Just not entirely sure how I will fit everything in this week, but here goes…..

So the first job on Monday was to print off the various reports and motions being tabled in Tynwald next week. I do genuinely try not to print everything off, but I still find it easier to read the more detailed reports from a paper copy, which also enables me to highlight points and add comments etc.

I also needed to print off the DfE Order paper which was over 150 pages, the Public Accounts Agenda Pack for Wednesday and the Visit Isle of Man agenda paper for Thursday.

At 10am there was a pre-meeting of the Select Committee on Accommodation for Vulnerable Young People and at 10.30am the Committee held two evidence sessions, the first the DHSC MInister, David Ashford, MHK, along with the Director of Children and Families, Debbie Brayshaw and the Director of Public Estates and Housing, Debbie Reeve.

The second evidence session was with Anne Seed, Head of Operations at St. Christopher’s, along with Richard Gilmour, Manager of Aftercare.

Two very interesting evidence sessions, which has certainly helped the Committee paint a picture around vulnerable people, especially those trying to access property and other services across government.

The meeting finished at 12.50, which gave me a few minutes to catch up with any urgent correspondence.

At 13.15 I had a meeting with someone looking to stand in next year’s Local Authority elections, and possibly in the House of Keys Elections in 2021.

I was more than happy to show them around our Chambers along with answering any initial questions during the 90 minute meeting.

At 14.45 I walked over to DfE to attend a TT related meeting, which was a pre-meeting ahead of a scheduled meeting from 15.30.

This meeting forms part of a series of meetings held in recent months, in order to help resolve a particular issue, but unfortunately I can’t give any further details at the moment.

Back to the office briefly before heading home at 17.05.

Once home I had to return a couple of calls and to catch up with any outstanding emails. I also had to go through the House of Keys Order Paper before finishing at 21.00.

I was back into the office for 8.10am on Tuesday and straight into reviewing the DfE agenda paper, and one particular item that required considerable amount of research ahead of Wednesday’s meeting.

At 10am we walked down to the House of Keys Chamber for this week’s sitting, which started with just 5 oral questions and 4 written questions.

There were the Second readings of the Council of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2019 and of the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill 2019.

Lawrie Hooper, MHK was then given leave to introduce a Private Member’s Bill, in order to make further provision in relation to leasehold premises and to amend the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011, and I was more than happy to support the Motion on behalf of those tenants involved.

Consideration of Clauses in respect of the Charities Registration and Regulation Bill 2018 was also discussed at length, along with several amendments.

During lunchtime there was a Tynwald CPD Session to explore ways of engaging and encouraging more schools and pupils to follow Manx Politics.

This week’s House of Keys sitting continued at 14.30 with the clauses stage of the Charities Registration and Regulation Bill 2018 until the session finished at around 15.40.

I did a Manx Radio interview in the morning with John Moss on the TT & FOM Commentary, which has been awarded to Manx Radio for 2019 but unfortunately I made a mistake so I needed to run up to Manx Radio to redo the interview before it goes online on Wednesday morning.

Back to the office to continue going through the DfE agenda pack before leaving the office at 17.15.

After tea I needed to start working through the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) agenda pack, but I was able to finish for 20.00.

I didn’t manage to finish going though all of the PAC pack on Tuesday evening, so I finished reviewing various reports and documents early on Wednesday morning before heading over to DfE at 9.15am for the usual Minister and Political meeting.

At 10am we had the Department meeting, which started with the Chairmen of the four agencies giving an update on their relevant sections.

As the DfE agenda pack was only about 150 pages we were able to finish just after 12 noon. From there we headed straight to the Barrool Suite for an update on various Brexit Regulations, on behalf of a number of Government Departments.

I had to leave the presentation slightly early, in order to attend the Public Accounts Committee meeting, which started at 14.00.

The PAC has now concluded its review into the spending at Noble’s Hospital and their report will be debated in Tynwald in May, but a copy of the actual report is now available via the March Tynwald Order Paper.

The focus of the PAC meeting on Wednesday was considering new topics of concern.

The meeting finished around 16.00 and the last hour was spent at my desk trying catch up with correspondence.

I left the office 17.10 and once home it was a quick shower and change before going down to the Villa Marina to support the Junior Achievement Company Programme Awards 2019, which started just after 18.00.

The top award of the evening was the “HSBC Student Company of the Year” went to Gravity from Ballakermeen, who will now represent the Isle of Man in France later on in the year….

A massive thank you to Sue and the whole team at Junior Achievement for the truly special evening.

Finally got home for 22.15.

I still managed to keep one eye on the House of Commons, in which MPs rejected a no deal Brexit in two separate votes, and the divisions within the UK government were dramatically laid bare as the Prime Minister’s own Cabinet Ministers openly defied her instructions…..

As for Thursday, well it was one of those days with back to back meetings. I arrived in the office just before 8am, in order to go though some notes etc.

Towards 9am I headed over to DfE for the Visit Isle of Man Agency Board Meeting, which had a few thorny issues up for debate but overall the agency is certainly heading in the right direction.

I had to leave the meeting early at 11.40am, which was a continuing theme throughout the day as I needed to attend a meeting of the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee, which started at 12 noon.

The meeting only lasted 90 minutes, and this enabled to me to send a few emails and return a couple of calls.

At 14.30 there was a Tynwald Presentation on establishing a Manx Youth Parliament, which could encourage greater engagement in politics, especially of students and young adults.

Unfortunately, I was only able to stay for 10 minutes as I had another dentist appointment at 15.00. I genuinely hate going to the dentist, but I can’t fault the team at 65 Woodbourne Dental Practice.

The work being done won’t improve my looks, but it might improve my smile….

From there I went straight to see Paul Moulton at MTTV, in order to do an interview on the TT and FOM Commentary, which was awarded to Manx Radio for 2019.

Finally got back to the office at 16.10, in order to catch up with various things before leaving at 17.00.

Once home I was able to watch the House of Commons and the latest round of Motions, Amendments and Votes.

At 19.00 Ellen and I attended the Commonwealth Day Dinner, which was being held at Douglas Golf Club.

His Excellency, the Lieutenant Governor and Lady Gozney were in attendance and the guest speaker this year was Deputy Montford Tadier, Member of the States Assembly of Jersey.

The costs for the dinner were paid by individual Tynwald Members.

We got home for 22.45 after a very enjoyable evening.

On Friday it was all about next week’s Tynwald sitting and preparing myself for a long sitting.

Other than going to the dentist just after 10am and attending a DfE Extraordinary Department Workshop meeting, which lasted for a couple of hours the rest of the day was spent at my desk working on the Tynwald sitting.

I also took the opportunity to leave the office at 15.30 after a very busy week.

On Friday evening Ellen and I went to St Peter’s Church Film Night, where they were showing “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which included supper.

A really good night out, congratulations to St Peter’s and everyone involved.

On Saturday morning I have my Political Surgery between 10am and 11.30am at the Community Hub.

On Saturday evening I will be heading to the Gaiety Theatre to watch Les Miserables, and I am definitely looking forward to the show, especially when I purchased the tickets around six months ago.

Sunday will definitely be taken up with the Tynwald Order Paper.