What will happen to party conferences if MPs cancel the autumn recess?
Politics Explained: MPs could vote to cancel the annual autumn recess for constitutional battles over Brexit, but how will his affect gatherings of the party faithful?
In the latest attempt to stop Boris Johnson forcing through a no-deal Brexit in just over two-and-a-half months, MPs are now said to be considering extending the parliamentary time available for more constitutional battles in the House of Commons.
The proposed suggestion is that when MPs return revitalised from their summer break, rebels will turn their attention to amending the usually mundane motion required for the the chamber to break once again in mid-September for the annual party conference season.
Typically, Westminster goes into recess during this period for three weeks and returns in October. It occurs so that MPs can decamp the Commons chamber and travel to gatherings of party members across the country.
Leaders of all the main parties use the major event in the political calendar to set out their policy agenda and vision for the future, while thousands of activists gather in the conference halls.
If MPs do decide to cancel the autumn recess, however, it is almost certain the conferences themselves will go ahead – not least due to them being a major source of income for the political parties.
While Tory members have no role in deciding party policy, both the Labour and Liberal Democrat conferences are critical events in this regard. For significant issues, such as Brexit, this is where any change in direction will be finalised, and voted on by party members and affiliates.
It will also be Boris Johnson’s first chance to address the Conservative Party membership since succeeding Theresa May as prime minister.
Dominic Cummings, the PM’s senior adviser in Downing Street, has already told aides the event this year will be treated as a Brexit rally – as the party remains steadfast in its commitment to deliver the UK’s exit from the EU by the 31 October deadline.
Rather than set pieces on the policy agenda and the traditional departmental priorities from senior cabinet ministers, all eyes will be on the Halloween Brexit date.
Theoretically, the conferences could be a scaled back affair this year as the constitutional battles rage on at Westminster, with just senior ministers and frontbenchers attending the gatherings while MPs stay put in SW1.