The Queen’s Speech is often seen as a chance for a reset – Parliament is prorogued, legislation falls, and the Government has an opportunity to lay out an agenda for the next year.
Rarely has a government needed a fresh start quite so badly.
This morning’s Queen’s Speech was delivered against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis, a very poor set of local elections results for the Conservatives, a brewing row over the Northern Ireland Protocol, and, lest we forget, ‘party-gate’.
And so, as Prince Charles took the place of the Queen in the House of Lords today, Boris Johnson hoped that an ambitious domestic programme would kick start a fight back that will set him on course for another term as PM.
For those who want to engage government to help shape the policy agenda, there was plenty of interest. Here are Brands2Life Public Affairs’ key measures of which every organisation looking to influence public policy should be aware.
The speech set in stone the Government’s 2019 General Election Campaign pledge to ‘level up Britain’ through a Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which the Government hopes will improve productivity and boost economic growth across the whole of the UK.
Since the last election, levelling up has been the central mantra of the Conservative Party. And while details have been thin until the recent Levelling Up White Paper, the electorate will expect to see a positive impact in their local area and perhaps most critically, their own economic situation. If they don’t, and the cost-of-living crisis is hardly going to help, we can expect the Conservatives to be punished at the ballot box.
This presents an opportunity for organisations across a range of sectors, from digital connectivity, to infrastructure and transport, to financial services. Government will be desperate for ideas and partners to help deliver on the levelling up pledge. If you have those ideas, there has never been a better time to find a receptive ear from government.
The Queen’s Speech included the Energy Security Bill, promising to deliver the Government’s commitments in the British Energy Security Strategy and the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution to build a more secure, homegrown energy system that is cleaner and more affordable.
The cost-of-living crisis, and the war in Ukraine, has made energy policy particularly tricky for the Government, as we highlighted in our recent blog on net-zero. On one hand, the Tories need to find a way to bring down energy bills and diversify supply, and yet on the other, the Government has set itself ambitious net-zero targets that preclude some measures that may help achieve the first task.
The Energy Security Bill may provide a route to balancing these two competing demands, but as always, the Government will need the expertise and buy-in of business. As with levelling up, organisations that have solutions to the challenges will likely receive a warm welcome in Whitehall.
The Government also used the Queen’s Speech to set out its intentions to tie up the legislative loose ends from Britain’s departure from the European Union, through new regulation that it believes will better fit the needs of the UK. Emphasis has been placed on using the Brexit Freedoms Bill to enable economic growth, whilst the Procurement Bill will make it easier for businesses to bid for public sector contracts.
The Government’s attempts to fulfil an integral part of its manifesto commitments will be scrutinised heavily, especially by first-time Conservative Party voters from the supposed ‘red-wall’ seats. The success of these measures will go a long way to determining whether the Tories will be able to maintain the electoral support that saw them achieve a landslide in 2019.
Making Brexit a success is the ultimate prize for this Government – indeed, they now have a cabinet minister dedicated to the task – and business should not be slow to outline what it needs from these two bills to ensure that they work as intended.
The Queen’s Speech has demonstrated the widespread challenges and opportunities the Government’s legislative agenda faces in the coming political year. For businesses, this presents multiple opportunities to engage with policy makers and provide the Government with expert advice on how it can realise its ultimate ambitions.
If you’d like to have an informal chat with the Brands2Life Public Affairs team about how you can best share your expertise with government, and help shape the legislative agenda, please get in touch via [email protected].