This will be our last Insider of 2019 so may we start by thanking all clients, friends, readers all the very best for the Festive Season. It’s been quite a year politically but just maybe 2020 and the start of a new decade might be the first election-free year in living memory. What will us political gurus do with ourselves?
On Tuesday and Wednesday, MPs were sworn in in record time and on Thursday the Queen set out the new majority Conservative Government’s agenda for the year ahead, following last week’s decisive election win. Legislation to take the UK out of the EU on 31 January 2020 was among more than 30 bills being announced during the year’s second State Opening of Parliament. Other measures included guarantees on extra health service funding and longer sentences for violent criminals. PM Boris Johnson says he wants to keep the UK united and “level up” opportunity.
Brexit is back on the agenda, of course, and the new Government is to add a new clause to the Brexit bill to rule out any extension to the transition period beyond the end of next year. As things stand, the post-Brexit transition period – due to conclude in December 2020 – can currently be extended by mutual agreement for up to two years.
This week, Scotland’s First Minister called on the UK Government to negotiate a transfer of powers to Holyrood to allow another referendum on independence. Nicola Sturgeon said there was an “unarguable” mandate for a new vote after her SNP won 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats in last week’s general election.
Economic news continues to emerge and this week the Institute for Government has published reports on Brexit negotiations and a second independence referendum. In the report on Brexit, the Institute for Government recommends that the UK Government ensure it has a clear view on the structure of negotiations, bring the UK Parliament and public “on side” and makes better use of diplomatic channels. It also draws attention to the political declaration from the UK regarding a future relationship, as it is not binding and will be revisited.
On independence, the Institute suggests that a second independence referendum could be more likely as a result of the general election. It suggests that the devolution of additional powers to Holyrood, new protections to prevent Westminster from legislating in Scotland and the right for Scotland to enter post-Brexit common framework negotiations could improve the case for the Union.
Ian Blackford has been unanimously re-elected as SNP Westminster leader for the new Parliament at yesterday’s AGM – following last week’s general election, which saw the SNP win 80% of Scottish seats. The SNP MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, who increased his own majority at the general election to over 9,443 and nearly 50% of the vote, said the SNP was now “the only strong, united and focused opposition to Boris Johnson’s extreme Tory government and devastating Brexit plans” with Labour consumed by bitter infighting and division. The SNP remains the UK’s second largest opposition party and as such will get
And 2020? In our traditional look forward, we will say with some degree of certainty that there will be no national elections next year. The next scheduled General Election is now unlikely before 2024 thanks to the Fixed Term Parliament Act. We will leave the EU in six weeks although the transition year will mean little real difference in terms of travel and most trading relationships. Britain’s 79 MEPs will lose their seats, however, as soon as we leave the EU. We will see former First Minister Alex Salmond in court in March. We will be watching with interest if any other political careers are affected.
We will start to see a raft of resignations as MSPs’ hands are forced to declare whether they will be standing again in May 2021. Holyrood veterans like John Finnie (Green) and Richard Lyle (SNP) have already said they are stepping down.
All five main parties will be finalising their 2021 manifestos – so the perfect time to be lobbying on key issues and, in fact, we have already started that process with several clients.
So, another busy year lies ahead, albeit much more behind the scenes for a change,
And finally … we had the pleasure of attending SPIFOX’s 2019 Carol Concert and lunch on Wednesday this week. Attended by 1,600 property professionals, it was great to see so many of our clients in attendance and catch up with you all. Over £250,000 was raised on the day, taking the money raised in total over the years to a staggering £5m+ for children’s charities in Scotland.
Everyone here at Perceptive wishes all our clients a very Merry Christmas, thank you for all your support this year and we are looking forward to doing it all again in 2020!
If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie Moulsdale on 07734 932578 or firstname.lastname@example.org