Week Ahead: Goodbyes for John Bercow and Jean-Claude Juncker - but not yet for Brexit

John Bercow is leaving his post as Speaker. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
John Bercow is leaving his post as Speaker. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
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Brexit may not be happening just yet - but the coming days will see the departures of John Bercow and Jean-Claude Juncker. Chris Burn looks into the Week Ahead.

POLITICAL FAREWELLS

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is stepping down from the role this week. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is stepping down from the role this week. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

This was supposed to have been the week in which Britain left the European Union but developments at Westminster means the Government has seemingly conceded Boris Johnson’s ‘do or die’ to deliver Brexit on October 31 cannot be fulfilled.

Instead, this week will see the possibility of a General Election being called in December. European leaders have accepted the need for an extension to the Brexit process but are to decide on its length this week - while MPs are due to vote today on whether to agree to a General Election on December 12; a decision that requires the support of two-thirds of Parliament.

Labour’s stance will be crucial in determining whether it happens, with Jeremy Corbyn indicating on Friday that - if an extension to the end of January is granted by EU leaders - he would support an election provided Mr Johnson makes it “absolutely clear” the UK would not crash out of the bloc.

But while Britain will seemingly not being leaving the EU this week, some other notable political departures are still scheduled which may bring some slight cheer to disappointed Leavers.

The ever-controversial John Bercow will be stepping down as Speaker on October 31 after 10 years in the post - making him the longest-serving Speaker since Edward FitzRoy served nearly 15 years between 1928 and 1943. The same day will also see the departure of Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission as his five-year term in the role comes to an end.

STEAMING IN

The questionable state of our rail network will be under the spotlight on Tuesday as Keith Williams, who chairs the Government-commissioned review of Britain’s railways, is questioned by MPs on the Commons’ Transport Select Committee.

The review was launched on the back of the huge disruption that followed the May 2018 timetable introduction caused misery for thousands of passengers, particularly in the North where thousands of services were cancelled or delayed.

Mr Williams has previously set out his stall on what he hopes to deliver by changing the rail industry - nothing less than “the creation of a thoroughly modern, 21st century service provider”. MPs will find out how he is getting on with the task.

GRENFELL INQUIRY

The first report of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry will be published on Wednesday morning as investigations continue into the fire which claimed 72 lives in London in June 2017.

The report has been described as “a very substantial document” which will include a number of recommendations to the Prime Minister and findings about the origins of the fire and the response of the London Fire Brigade.

The second phase of the inquiry will take place from January and examine issues such as the cladding on the tower and how the authorities dealt with the aftermath of the tragedy.

NORTHERN BALLET MILESTONE

There’s a lot happening in Leeds’s cultural scene right now. Leeds Playhouse recently reopened following a multi-million pound transformation and this week Northern Ballet, whose HQ is just around the corner from the Playhouse, will have its work screened live into UK cinemas for the first time.

It’s a decade since the National Theatre screened the first NT Live broadcast, a way for people around the country to gather in a cinema and watch what was on stage in London, and this is a big moment for Northern Ballet which is soon to start celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The company’s ballet version of Dracula is also the first major production to appear on the stage of the newly refurbished Quarry Theatre at the Playhouse. So a double cause for celebration.