The inside track: July 2019

Our latest update on what’s going on in Westminster that might impact charities, including speculation about the new prime minister, another parliamentary grouping of independents, and a second recall by-election this year.


It’s been a relatively quiet month in parliament – though the Northern Ireland (executive formation and exercise of functions) bill has created opportunities for major changes, with MPs passing amendments by Conor McGinn and Stella Creasy to legalise same-sex marriage and liberalise abortion in Northern Ireland.

The legislation was also used by some to attempt to stop the government proroguing parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit against the will of MPs. While Dominic Grieve’s amendment may not be able to do that, despite narrowly passing, it is likely to be just the start of a new series of parliamentary attempts to block no-deal.


There was good news for those who follow parliament, and its procedures, closely. Erskine May, the guide to all parliamentary procedure has for the first time been digitised and made freely available online. This means the next time you’re curious about the procedures you need to follow to achieve successful change, it should be easier to get answers. To coincide with the new edition, recently retired Clerk of the Commons Sir David Natzler has written about what has changed since the previous edition for the Constitution Unit.

People news

We will shortly have a new prime minister, expected to be Boris Johnson. The result of the Conservative leadership contest will be announced next Tuesday, 23 July, and Theresa May will recommend the Queen appoint the winner as the new prime minister the following day when she goes to Buckingham Palace after Prime Minister’s Questions.

Lib Dem leadership election

The new leader of the Liberal Democrats is also expected to be announced on 23 July. Jo Swinson is the bookies’ favourite to beat Sir Ed Davey, but limited polling of Lib Dem members means this is probably harder to predict than for the Conservatives.

Independents Day

Four of the six MPs who left what is now the Independent Group for Change, have now formed their own grouping, the Independents, alongside John Woodcock who has sat as an independent MP since leaving the Labour Party. Sarah Wollaston has not joined the new grouping, but remains an independent, while Chuka Umunna has joined the Liberal Democrats.

Brecon and Radnorshire byelection

The recall petition against Conservative MP Chris Davies was successful, so a byelection will be held in Brecon and Radnorshire. Mr Davies has been chosen to refight the seat, with the Liberal Democrats, whose Welsh party leader Jane Dodds is the candidate, expected to provide the strongest challenge, and potentially reduce the Conservative majority even further.

What will a Boris Johnson premiership mean for charities?

Most people are now expecting Boris Johnson to be prime minister, and as such much of the media coverage of the leadership contest is now looking ahead to his first days as PM.

He has set 31 October as a hard deadline for Brexit, but has claimed that a credible threat of no-deal will bring the EU back to the negotiating table. In practice it seems unlikely that the EU will reopen the withdrawal agreement, but like previously, there may be more room for manoeuvre on the political declaration. Boris Johnson is probably better placed to get an amended deal through parliament, particularly with Labour MPs expressing regret at previous failures to pass the deal. However, even if he is successful there will be very little time to get the necessary legislation through parliament, with a very unstable coalition of MPs in favour, in time for the UK to leave on 31 October. Which means even if he gets a deal, and looks able to pass it through parliament, he may be faced with breaking his promise or leaving without ratifying that deal.

It’s arguably even less certain what this will all mean for his domestic agenda, to the extent that there can be one. We’ve been reading various things that might give us some clues including the following:

As we start to get a clearer picture, we will be hosting a free webinar on 1 August, providing practical tips on how to work with a new government, particularly in the current environment.

NCVO Campaigning Conference

We’re gearing up for our annual campaigning conference in September. This month we have announced our morning keynote session, a discussion of the Windrush scandal, the ongoing campaign, and the lessons we can learn. Speakers will include:

  • Amelia Gentleman, the Guardian
  • Kimberly McIntosh, Runnymede Trust and Race on the Agenda
  • Patrick Vernon, social commentator and political activist
  • Satbir Singh, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

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’re looking for campaigning training, our new training website now has all of our courses in one place.

Our next Certificate in Campaigning, our flagship seven module course covering a range of campaigning tools and techniques with a focus on strategy, starts again in October, and is open for applications.

Brexit updates

We’ve produced a factsheet for charities to help them prepare for the impact of Brexit.

If you want to keep in touch with the latest Brexit news, it’s also worth following these:

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Avatar photo 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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