Week Ahead: New era of prohibition in Parliament as Speaker calls time on MPs drinking

A new age of prohibition is beginning at Parliament while the Olivier Awards celebrates the best of the nation’s theatre. Chris Burn looks into the Week Ahead.

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

LAST ORDERS

As MPs return to work at Parliament with the twin challenges of further Covid lockdown measures and the seemingly-increasing likelihood of a no deal Brexit, they will no longer be able to drown their sorrows as a new prohibition on the sale of alcohol in all House of Commons bars and restaurants is introduced.

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While public sympathy is likely to be in short supply - particularly among business owners around the country who have either be forced to shut their doors or are dealing with much-reduced customer numbers - the measure has been ordered by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle to apply even if “food is served or not”.

The change came into effect on Saturday but will really be felt from Monday as Parliamentarians return to business after the weekend.

Sir Lindsay said the move is designed to bring the Commons “in line with the national picture”.

“As MPs represent different constituencies in different tiers – with the very highest level ordering the closure of pubs – I have decided to stop the sale of alcohol across the House of Commons end of the estate from this Saturday,” he said. “This means it will not be possible to buy an alcoholic drink from any of our catering outlets for the foreseeable future – whether food is served or not.”

It follows controversy last month after it controversially emerged that Parliament’s bars and restaurants could remain open due to an exemption in the coronavirus rules - leading to a swift decision to ban the serving of alcohol after the 10pm curfew.

ELECTION FEVER

The second - and final - Presidential debate will take place in Nashville on Thursday as Donald Trump and Joe Biden face off for a last time before the election.

After an incredibly-testy first debate, the second one was cancelled as a result of Trump catching coronavirus.

The event will be held at Belmont University, which hosted the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate.

Belmont University President Dr Bob Fisher said: “Hosting the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate put Belmont University at the centre of one of the most historic presidential elections in American history. To be selected again is a great honour, and I’m confident that together — with the support of the Nashville community — we will once again exceed expectations in producing this internationally important event.”

On Saturday, anti-Trump campaigners will gather in London for a Stop Trump Coalition protest will taking place just ten days before the US Presidential election. The protest is part of a nationwide day of action against a proposed US trade deal.

NAMES IN LIGHTS

The coronavirus crisis has been particularly challenging for the nation’s theatres but Sunday will offer a rare chance for a smile as the Olivier Awards take place.

The winners will be announced in a special programme hosted by Jason Manford and broadcast on ITV and Magic Radio.

The ceremony had originally been due to take place in April but was cancelled due to the pandemic.

The show will be broadcast from different areas within the London Palladium and feature a mixture of the awards, interviews and performances.

CLOCKS GO BACK

The nights have already been drawing in but this weekend will herald the start of winter as the clocks go back an hour on Sunday morning.

Let’s hope that by the time they move forward again in spring, the nation and world is in a much more positive place with coronavirus.

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Thank you

James Mitchinson