Government 'hopeful' over re-establishment of Northern Ireland executive

Stormont
Stormont

Andrea Leadsom has said the Government is "very hopeful" of good news coming from Northern Ireland to re-establish its Executive, as she confirmed there would be no debate in Parliament on the repeal bill next week.

The business for next week unveiled by the Commons Leader was notable for the absence of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, flagship legislation that will transfer European law onto the domestic statute book after Brexit.

Ms Leadsom faced questions over its absence at Business questions, as well as the fact she had only set out one week's business instead of two.

Responding to shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz, Ms Leadsom said: "She will be aware that we're very hopeful that there may be some good news coming from Northern Ireland that might enable legislation to recreate the Northern Ireland Executive.

"We always wait hopefully that that will be the case, and other legislation that can come up at the last minute.

"So I think that it's always very important that we give as much notice as possible, but it's perfectly normal practice to only have one week's business mentioned."

On the so-called repeal bill, Ms Leadsom went on to say: "What I can say to all members is of course, there are some 300 amendments and 54 new clauses being proposed, quite rightly, by members who have very real concerns about the Bill.

"Those are being closely evaluated. That is taking a bit of time to have proper, thoughtful, well considered responses to those.

"But we will of course be bringing forward the committee of the whole House just as soon as we're able to."

MPs are due to spend eight days debating the repeal bill at committee stage, which will then undergo further scrutiny in the Commons and the Lords before it is approved.

Next week's business includes an opposition day debate on Universal Credit, where Labour will aim to put further pressure on the Government over welfare reform.

It also includes the second reading of the Nuclear Safeguards Bill, outlining the nuclear safeguards regime for the UK after Brexit.

Ms Vaz said: "Is the Government in such chaos that they don't even know what's happening from one week to the next?

"This is a fiasco. I think we're running out of words, there's a new lexicon for constitutional outrage, I have to consult my theasaurus."

Ms Vaz went on to poke fun at Theresa May's speech at the Tory Party conference, saying: "The Prime Minister yesterday mentioned the Labour Party conference, but she failed to mention that when she spoke, there were cries of 'f off'.

"Actually, it was people saying that the letter f was falling off the back of the platform."

Ms Leadsom said: "I'm slightly bemused about all of the various 'f's going on.

"As far as I'm aware nobody is going to f off, and that's good news."