The inside track: September 2018

Our latest update on what’s going on in Westminster that might impact charities includes appointments made over the summer, more speculation on the political fallout of Brexit and a preview of party conferences.

People news

PPS appointments

The July reshuffle has meant that a number of appointments to parliamentary private secretary roles have been made over the summer. Key appointments for charities include Alex Chalk as PPS to health secretary Matt Hancock, and Leo Docherty as PPS for the MHCLG ministerial team.

DCMS special advisers

New digital, culture, media and sport secretary Jeremy Wright has appointed Lucy Noakes and Alexander Jackman as special advisers.

Select committees

Sir Kevin Barron MP is standing down as chair of both the Privileges and Standards committees. A new chair will be elected by the House of Commons.

Party leadership

  • Sir Vince Cable MP has indicated he will stand down as leader of the Liberal Democrats in 2019 after saying he would leave his post once Brexit has been “resolved”.
  • Sian Berry and Jonathan Bartley have been elected as co-leaders of the Green Party. Ms Berry replaces Green MP Caroline Lucas, who decided not to stand for re-election.
  • Paul Davies AM has been elected leader of the Welsh Conservative assembly group after defeating fellow assembly member Suzy Davies. He replaces Andrew RT Davies.

Other appointments

  • Former Bond chief executive Dr Tamsyn Barton is the government’s preferred candidate to be chief commissioner of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact.

Will the Brexit votes cause a political crisis?

Last week, we hosted a webinar on where Brexit has got to, and what will happen next – in short our advice is that no deal is plausible enough that charities should be planning for it, but if you want more detail you can watch it back.

But as politicians have returned to Westminster, talk is now moving on to what this all means for the Prime Minister’s future. Conservative party leadership rules have effectively set up a stalemate – members of the Conservative European Research Group may want to topple Theresa May, and they have enough votes to trigger a vote of confidence, but probably not enough to win that vote. And if such an attempt fails, it couldn’t be launched again for 12 months, which means rebels may not choose to make their move at this point.

Whether that could change if there’s an obvious trigger for a political crisis, such as a lost vote on approving a withdrawal agreement, is hard to predict, though the problem with this approach is that whether the solution is a new leader, or an election, it may not make much difference to the fundamental challenges of negotiating and seeking parliamentary approval for a final Brexit deal – so while criticisms of current leadership will almost certainly continue, they may not be resolved until after exit day.

Catch up with us at party conferences

Once again, party conference season is upon us – and is likely to be dominated by speculation about the future of the various parties.

Brexit is likely to loom large throughout conference season and may well spark debates about the future direction of both the Conservatives and Labour, while Labour conference will also see a lot of focus on internal party democracy and in particular the rules around selecting candidates. After Sir Vince Cable’s recent speech, Lib Dem conference will likely hear more about proposed rule changes to open up party structures.

We’ll be scouring the fringe guides for interesting meetings, but if you’re going to any of the conferences and want to catch up, please drop us a line:

Lib Dems

Chris Walker – / @_c_walker


Karl Wilding – / @karlwilding

Aidan Warner – / @ncvoaidan


Karl Wilding – / @karlwilding

Chloe Stables – / @ncvochlo

NCVO can help you to navigate Westminster and Whitehall

Make sure your voice is heard by those making the decisions. We can provide a range of advice, support and training, contact for details.

If you want to improve your engagement with select committees, receive tips on how to make your written submissions stand out, and learn how to make sure senior staff are fully prepared to give evidence, our next Influencing Select Committees course is on 23 November.

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Please do get in touch with me at if there’s anything you’d like to see included, or you have any other comments.

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Chris is NCVO’s public affairs manager, focusing on parliamentary work. He started his career working for several MPs in Parliament, and has also worked in public affairs and policy roles for the Federation of Small Businesses.

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