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Mon, 1 June 2020

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EXPLAINED: Why the first week of June looks like it could be the craziest yet in British politics

EXPLAINED: Why the first week of June looks like it could be the craziest yet in British politics

Emilio Casalicchio

4 min read

The first week of June is shaping up to be one of the maddest weeks yet in Westminster. Here is a detailed rundown of how each day is looking… and these are just the events we already know about.


What better way to kick off a week of political chaos in the UK than by welcoming Donald Trump to our shores? The US president will arrive for his long-awaited state visit, with a lavish Buckingham Palace banquet set for the first night.

The Don will realise his dream of meeting the Queen while Theresa May grits her teeth and waits for the whole thing to be over. Unfortunately she will have to look after Trump for three whole days - although he brings with him the benefit of overshadowing every other bad news story going. And there are a few.

The opposition will be on hand to make life as difficult as possible for the PM while Trump is around. A Labour source said: “Theresa May should not be rolling out the red carpet for a US President who backs climate change denial and uses racist and misogynist rhetoric. We will take every opportunity to remind the Prime Minister and the public that instead of standing up to him like she should be, she's holding his hand every step of the way.”


MPs will return to Parliament after the Whitsun recess ready to get their teeth into the next big Brexit vote. After almost two weeks of putting their feet up (ahem…  working in their constituencies and reeling from the European Parliament election results) they will get the scrap of the year on the Commons floor when Theresa May brings forward her Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

The Government has not yet said which day the legislation will come before the Commons, but it has confirmed the crucial second reading vote must happen within the week in order for Brexit to happen by the summer recess. Even if the showdown is scheduled for Friday, the impending vote will overshadow the entire week.

Asked what the chances were of the WAB being passed by the House, one pro-Brexit Tory MP said: “Zero.” The Government has already had to drop hopes of ever passing an introductory motion on the bill, after it was rejected three times. 

In poetic scheduling clash, the Commons vs Lords annual tug of war is down to take place on Tuesday too.


Wednesday will be a major event in the Donald Trump timetable as the President and Prime Minister make their way to Portsmouth to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy. The Queen will also be in attendance, while representatives from Canada, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and a host of other nations are expected to attend.

The hope for the PM is that the Don will be on his best behaviour. But she will also have to worry about the hordes of protesters who will take every opportunity to get in the way of things.


As if the week could not get any busier, the people of Peterborough will elect their new MP on Thursday after they dumped Fiona Onasanya for perverting the course of justice over a driving offence. Onasanya won a majority of 607 for Labour in the 2017 snap election, so the seat is super-marginal.

Throwing a spanner in the works of the two party system is Nigel Farage, whose new Brexit Party is hoping to capitalise on the impasse at Westminster and drive a truck through the middle of the vote. Peterborough plumped for Brexit at the 2016 referendum, so the stage is set for an embarrassing upset for the major parties.

A Brexit Party source said it would snatch votes from the Conservatives and Labour whether Parliament backs the Withdrawal Agreement Bill during the week or not. “Either they stitch up a deal with Labour or they don’t and it fails, both of which turbo-boost the Brexit Party candidate in Peterborough,” they argued.


Westminster will be waking up to the Peterborough by-election vote, which could well sour the mood ahead of the weekend. Of course, the Prime Minister could choose to put the second reading vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill off until Friday, in the hope that a good result for the Brexit Party in Peterborough shocks her troops into backing the legislation.

But the chance of those troops doing her any favours are slim to say the least - which is never a help when you have the week from hell coming up. They want her gone so they can get on with giving someone else a go. One Tory MP told PoliticsHome: “We aren’t going to sacrifice Brexit, our country or our party on one woman’s ego and stubbornness any longer. This shit show has gone on for far too long.”

One thing is for sure. The tough-as-nails week Theresa May faces at the start of June will be one of her last in office.


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