The inside track: October 2018

Welcome to our latest update on what’s going on in Westminster that might impact charities. This month’s round-up includes threats to vote down the Budget, more speculation on Brexit votes, and a couple of dates for your diary.

Parliament

Parliament has returned after party conference season this week, though the next few weeks may be relatively quiet in terms of legislation as we wait for the outcome of Brexit negotiations to become clearer.

One potential flashpoint to look out for will be the Budget. Both Conservative rebels and the Democratic Unionist Party have reportedly threatened to vote against it unless the prime minister ensures the Brexit they want. Historically, the Budget has been seen as a confidence vote (though in reality this depends a bit on political circumstances), but the Fixed Term Parliaments Act removed existing procedures around confidence votes. A specific procedure has to be followed to trigger an election through a motion of no confidence.

That said, not being able to get a Budget through would still a big problem for any government – even if they were able to secure the votes to pass a finance bill.

Either way, aside from the obvious difficulties the government will face in agreeing a Brexit deal in parliament, MPs opposing the PM’s approach to Brexit could seek to use Brexit legislation to make political points. Charities working on these bills will need to be aware of this possibility.

People news

Parliamentary private secretaries

Following the main round of PPS appointments mentioned in last month’s Inside Track, two additional appointments have been made. Gillian Keegan, who spoke at a fringe about charities and technology at Conservative Party conference, has been appointed as PPS to the Treasury, and Vicky Ford has been appointed as a PPS to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Party leadership

  • Adam Price AM is the new leader of Plaid Cymru. He defeated fellow assembly member Rhun ap Iorwerth in the final round of voting, after incumbent Leanne Wood finished third in the first round.

Other appointments

  • Harry Rich, former chief executive of the Royal Institute of British Architects, has been appointed as the new registrar of consultant lobbyists.
  • Julia Wortley has been appointed as the independent monitor of the disclosure and barring service.

Where do we stand after party conferences?

Both main parties will leave party conference with more of a spring in their step than might have been expected. Theresa May made light of last year’s difficult conference speech and picked up good reviews, while Labour announced a series of eye-catching policies.

However, any good feeling may quickly evaporate as we return to the realities of a fractious Brexit vote, with both parties facing the prospect of rebellion. At the moment, the government faces a massive challenge getting any deal through parliament. Key pro-Brexit MP Steve Baker is claiming 40 Conservatives will vote against a Chequers-like deal. In response, the government is reported to be wooing up to 30 potential Labour rebels to vote against their party and for the deal, to avoid a no-deal outcome. Both of those numbers are likely to be on the high side, but it seems certain that the Prime Minister will have to rely on Labour votes to secure a deal.

Charities should be carefully considering the impact of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on their own organisations, and beneficiaries.

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 chris.walker@ncvo.org.uk 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 course on influencing select committees is on 23 November.

Upcoming dates

2018 budget

The 2018 budget statement will be on 29 October – earlier than expected. As it is being held on a Monday, it is likely to take place from around 15.30. NCVO has joined with a number of other sector bodies in calling for substantive action on dormant assets and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The budget will be followed by a spending review in 2019, but there is no news of specific timing as yet.

Impact of a no-deal Brexit

Before the Budget, we will also be holding a free event with UK in a Changing Europe on the potential impact of no-deal, to help organisations who are looking to make plans in the event that either the UK and EU are not able to come to agreement, or parliament votes down a deal.

Our recent webinar set out why no-deal remains a plausible outcome, given the difficulties of finding an agreement which satisfies all parties.

Feedback

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

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Chris Walker Chris is a Senior External Relations Officer at NCVO, 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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