Week Ahead #3: Juggling Knives, Birley Sandwiches, and Prince

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The 57th parliament celebrated its first birthday on Friday, but no one is betting on it making it to the end of year two. Tuesday sees the European Union Withdrawal Bill return to the House of Commons, with the government desperate to overturn the 15 defeats suffered in the House of Lords.

The really big votes are over the customs union – whether we stay in it or we leave it, essentially – and the final EU-UK deal. As it stands, although the government has to give parliament a vote on the deal, it can decide what the question it puts before MPs actually is. This means that if the talks collapse, parliament can't do anything about it; yet if Theresa May reaches an agreement, she could simply present parliament with a choice between her deal and the cliff-edge. Which, obviously, is no real choice at all. But if she's defeated this week, parliament will have to have a real say on the talks, and no one is clear what that would mean for the government's ability to get its preferred flavour of Brexit through.

The Prime Minister will try to woo Conservative MPs at a meeting of the parliamentary party on Monday night. She’ll be in a difficult position if she fails to do so, as it is becoming increasingly clear that there is no Brexit that unites the Tory party, the Houses of Parliament and the EU27.

A lot of you have asked if Theresa May is in any real danger. My take is that Theresa May is always in danger, rather like someone juggling sharp knives. Just because she hasn't dropped one yet, doesn't mean that she won't do so next week. And rather like someone juggling sharp knives, missing the first one is only the start of your problems, as more knives are always certain to follow.

Out this week

Gabriel Talent's My Absolute Darling is out in paperback. I am making my way through Bill Clinton's novel The President Is Missing, and you can find out what I make of it in a forthcoming edition of the New Statesman.

In cinemas: breezy New York romcom The Boy Downstairs stars Zosia Mamet and Matthew Shear as a former couple who rekindle their romance after discovering they’ve accidentally moved into neighbouring flats. Also out now is crowdfunded British thriller Welcome to Curiosity – made on a budget of just £200,000 – which follows the escape from prison of a psychopath to a remote Cornish village. It's been described as “a masterclass in how not to make a low-budget film” by the Express, “implausible and silly” by the Guardian and “like watching a primary school ensemble re-enact their favourite bits from HeatFight Club and Prime Suspect. But not as much fun as that sounds” by the Times. I must admit, I'm morbidly fascinated to see if it lives down to the hype.

Office politics

We are getting used to life in our new offices and taking full advantage of the exciting new range of lunch options nearby.

Birley seems to be the winner so far: our news editor Julia has re-awakened her love of the £3.95 lentil soup, and I spotted our picture editor Gerry grabbing a sandwich there on my way back to Westminster this week.

Anoosh, however, is the exception to the new lunchtime rule; remaining so committed to Eat’s coconut chicken noodle soup that she walks back to the branch by the old office every day.

I prefer to bring packed lunches, which have this week largely consisted of leftover curry from Pushpesh Pant's India Cookbook – the best and increasingly the most-stained recipe book I own. But my eating habits have triggered a cold war with one of the parliamentary staffers, who insists that only MP’s staff, not journalists, are allowed to use the communal microwaves. More on that story as we get it.

Lend us your ears

Helen was on holiday this week so Anoosh joined me in the podcast suite to discuss Labour’s new Brexit policy and potholes in Banbury. Because when she’s not trekking to Eat, Anoosh has been busy travelling the country as part of our Crumbling Britain series and we talked about some of the struggling services she’s seen.

It's the type of intensive work that we can only afford to do thanks to your support. Don't forget that, as a subscriber, you can click here to listen to the podcast a day before everyone else, and can read the magazine on a Wednesday night before it hits the newsstands by clicking here.

Westminster whispers

Robbie Gibb, formerly the head of the BBC's political programming turned Theresa May's chief spin doctor, is widely regarded as one of the most committed Brexiteers in Downing Street. Which makes it surprising, says Patrick, that it is Gibb, not May herself, who is being blamed by his fellow Leavers for Downing Street's poor handling of the press over Brexit, in a sign of just how frayed tempers are in the Conservative Party around about now.

The sound of music

Old Man Jasper believes that if he’s up front about the fact that he has the musical tastes of a much older man, I won't give him a hard time about it in this email. He's wrong. See if you can work out which tunes are his in our all-staff playlist. And here's what I've been listening to this week.

On a lighter note

Kansas native Kal Patel has claimed that he has no regrets after tracking down the owner of a $1m-winning lottery ticket after the customer left it on the counter of his parents' Pit Stop store in Salina, Kansas. “Good deeds come back to help you, and bad deeds come back to haunt you,” Patel told reporters. “It felt good to find it and then find them.”

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.