The Week in Politics: Galloway's re-entry, Qatada's non-exit

Another weekus horribilis for Theresa May
Another weekus horribilis for Theresa May
Alex Stevenson By

Gloating comes before a fall, as 'Theresa April' discovered to her cost this week.

That's what the Telegraph's Matt has labelled the home secretary after her very hubristic celebrations in the Commons on Tuesday. May's department's lawyers were confident that radical cleric Abu Qatada's deadline to appeal deportation ended three months after January 17th - ie, the end of April 16th. Monday night.

His lawyers disagreed, and chose to submit their appeal to deportation at 22:00 on Tuesday, April 17th. Just hours after wallowing in the approval of MPs, May found herself in big, big trouble. It isn't yet clear which team of legal eagles is right. But the fact is that Qatada remains in Britain, and is likely to do so for many weeks to come. He may even have to be released from jail again. Another monstrous blunder from the coalition.

The government had a tough week for other reasons, too. Liberal Democrat MPs resisted pressure from Labour as they stuck to their nerve over the legal aid bill, reversing a shockingly high 11 defeats by the Lords. Then there was the Budget, which continues to unravel even though nearly a month has passed since George Osborne delivered it. The 'granny tax' was voted through this week, but not until the opposition had made coalition ministers feel very uncomfortable indeed. Ed Miliband's blunderbuss approach had limited success, but it was the incessant questioning about the Budget from backbench MPs which proved most debilitating for the prime minister.

Away from the sterile world of Whitehall, this was a very good week for personality politics. There is the ongoing guaranteed amusement value of the London mayoral campaign, of course, with Boris continuing to maintain the edge in the polls over his Labour rival, Ken. This week we spent one morning out on the stump with Boris, as he sought to persuade the students of Croydon College - those old enough to vote, anyway - that he was their best bet. How they laughed at his jokes. That didn't mean they were all going to vote for him, though.

A bigger personality than both Boris or Ken returned to parliament this week. 'Gorgeous' George Galloway, the Respect MP who won the Bradford West by-election at the end of March, took his seat in the Commons on Monday. He managed to get a question in at PMQs on Wednesday, which he used to call for a quicker-than-planned exit from Afghanistan. Galloway has been working from the Commons cafeteria after refusing an office without a window. It was from this location that he penned an outspoken article for us explaining exactly why he thought all the Westminster parties were hopelessly "complacent" - and even narcissistic.

Next week begins with a committee of peers and MPs giving us their verdict on Lords reform - an issue which was already in the headlines at the end of this week. For all the other business coming up in parliament - including an improbable appearance by none other than Russell Brand - our week in Westminster might just be of interest.


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