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MPs are back after their Easter break, so what's the Brexit latest?

The UK is preparing for local elections, European elections; while Theresa May still tries to get her deal over the line.

MPS ARE BACK this week after their Easter break, which came just after the EU granted the UK a long, ‘flexible’ extension until 31 October.

So what’s next, then? Here’s a quick runthrough of what’s to happen this week, and what the longer-term timetable is.

It’s still all about May’s deal

pjimage Source: Photojoiner/PA Images

First up, is the Tory government’s talks with Labour are still ongoing. British Prime Minister Theresa May is to officially resume those talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn today, to try to convince him to support her Withdrawal Agreement.

In the last House of Commons vote on her Brexit deal, May lost by 58 votes. She’s given up on trying to draw the support of her own Tory rebel MPs, so she’s now trying to get Labour to help her approve it – but they want changes first. Among those changes is a possible customs deal with the European Union, which would be a closer arrangement than what’s already been negotiated in the current Withdrawal Agreement.

The EU has already said that the contents of the Withdrawal Agreement cannot be renegotiated, but are happy to clarify what’s already in it through legal documents.

The European Council is also prepared to reconsider the Political Declaration on the future relationship if necessary.

May is hoping to have the Withdrawal Agreement passed before the European elections, so we could be in for another dramatic Westminster vote before 22 May.

European elections 

If the UK is still a member of the EU between 23 and 26 May it will have to hold European Parliament elections. If the UK doesn’t hold those elections, it will leave on 1 June 2019.

The European Council will review the progress of the negotiations at its meeting on 20-21 June, ahead of another meeting with the UK on 30 June.

The recently launched Brexit Party is not only running candidates in the European elections, but polls are predicting they will do quite well. A YouGov poll placed them with 27% support, Labour with 22% and the Conservatives on 15% support.

But before the European elections, there’s the local elections on 2 May. There are 8,374 council seats available in England, 462 in Northern Ireland. Tories hold over 4,600 of those seats, while there is no party majority in Northern Ireland.

The elections will be closely watched as a barometer of the political good or bad will towards the government after Brexit.

As it stands, the Tories are predicted to lose heavily, as both pro- and anti-Brexit voters show their displeasure to Theresa May’s middle-of-the-road Brexit deal.

This week

The big event to watch this week will be tomorrow’s session of Prime Minister’s Questions at 12pm, which will be followed by Corbyn’s statement to the House of Commons.

This will give a sense of how the Brexit talks between the two parties are going.

From 2pm today, the House of Commons’ Scottish Affairs committee will hear evidence from a panel of experts on how Brexit will affect Scotland’s agriculture sector.

At 2.30pm, the Common’s Sub-Committee on Disinformation will hear from the Information Commissioner on Brexit adverts on Facebook, in what will be the committee’s first hearing.

Tomorrow morning at 9.15am, the Treasury Committee will be hearing from the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, about the Spring statement he gave. 

In the afternoon, the Foreign Affairs Committee will begin its new inquiry ‘Finding a diplomatic route: European responses to irregular migration’, which will consider the causes and consequences of irregular migration into Europe.

In 2015, the government promised to open the first supervised drug injecting centre in Ireland within two years. In the latest episode of The Explainer podcast, Sinead O’Carroll, Cormac Fitzgerald and Christine Bohan delve into why this hasn’t happened yet – and whether it ever will. You can listen to the episode on Soundcloud here.

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