Recess is over – Parliament returns

With tomorrow’s debate on Syria summer holidays may be ending slightly faster than expected for MPs, but there’s a raft of domestic issues set to make headlines when Parliament gets back into full swing next week.

Peace in the Tory party may have broken out over Europe with the progress made by James Wharton MP’s EU Referendum Bill – which will be debated further on the 3rd September – but other obstacles remain. One is the highly sensitive appointment of a new Ambassador to the EU. Many Conservatives regard the UK’s Permanent Representation to the EU as too Europhile, and will be looking for the PM to appoint someone they think would be more combative than the outgoing Sir Jon Cunliffe.

Costs for HS2 – the High Speed rail link from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds – have continued to spiral upwards. The Government remains committed but Labour have sensed an opportunity to shift a position of outright support and take a more nuanced line, supporting the project up to a cost of £50bn but not beyond that. Such high cost coming hot on the heels of the controversy over the west coast mainline franchise gives them an opportunity to increase pressure on the Transport Secretary. A report due in September by the Public Accounts Committee may give them further ammunition.

Reshuffles in both the Conservative Party and Labour are due, though neither is likely to see wholesale changes. On the Tory side especially, there is likely to be little appetite to move any of the party’s big beasts, and no high-profile cabinet minister is wobbling at this stage. Miliband’s reshuffle is an important one, as he looks to set in place his team for the general election in 2015. Any moves will help make for frenetic party conferences at the end of September.

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