Ping! An email lands in Steerpike's inbox. It's been a while since we heard from Dominic Grieve, the Francophile Beaconsfield barrister who quit the Tory party in October 2019. Since losing his seat by 15,000 votes at the last election, Grieve has largely contented himself with minor academic sinecures and occasional swipes at his old nemesis Boris Johnson. But now the president of the Franco-British society has returned to the fray, drafting a critical amendment to the government's flagship Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill today.
Grieve has — surprise, surprise — teamed up with the ardent Remainiacs over at Best for Britain, the anti-Johnson pressure group last seen trying to make a Brexit culture war out of Covid. For members of the House of Lords will this afternoon vote on an amendment to the Policing Bill that BfB claim would 'protect people’s right to peaceful protest around Parliament.' At the centre of the controversy are provisions within Clause 59 of the Bill on demonstrations in and around the highest seat of power in Britain that would prohibit large scale demonstrations around Parliament, Whitehall and outside Downing Street.
BfB though have co-ordinated a new amendment 'by ensuring that legal avenues for people to apply to hold peaceful demonstrations will continue to be available'. Grieve has helped draft the amendment which has been tabled by crossbench peer Lord Colville as, unlike the former Attorney General, he does still have a seat in Parliament. It's backed by opposition parties and some Tory peers. Will it work? Given some of Grieve's past predictions, Mr S wouldn't bet on it.