Back to School

Parliament is back next week for two weeks before MPs and Peers (alongside with plenty of lobbyists) head off to the Party Conferences. Connect’s Melanie Pope looks at what to expect in the coming weeks and months…

It’s been an unexpectedly easy summer for David Cameron, with the media focused firmly on the Labour leadership election and what looks like the increasingly likely election of Jeremy Corbyn. However, with summer now drawing to a close, MPs will be back in Westminster next week and the PM will have to get back down to the messy realities of governing.

His response to the refugee crisis across Europe has come under criticism in the last few days, with Labour leadership contenders Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn calling for more action to be taken. Andy Burnham has been leading the call for an urgent Parliamentary debate on Monday and pressure is being piled on by David Cameron’s own backbenchers, including from Tom Tugendhat, David Burrowes and Johnny Mercer, for a more humanitarian response.

The honeymoon period for the first Conservative majority in 18 years, and a reasonably well received Summer Budget, meant before summer it was easy forget how small David Cameron’s majority actually is. A manifesto commitment to repeal the Human Rights Act was quickly postponed when it became clear that not all of David Cameron’s MPs were behind him, with senior party figures including former Attorney General, Dominic Grieve and former chief whip, Andrew Mitchell raising concerns about the proposals.

However, these challenges can’t be postponed indefinitely and with the EU referendum back in the headlines this week, the splits in the Conservative Party are bound to show eventually, probably sooner rather than later. The EU Referendum Bill is scheduled to finish its passage through the House of Commons on the day Parliament returns, and with the Electoral Commission’s proposed new question (leave/remain in, rather than yes/no) accepted by the Government, all that we need now is a date. Many expect the date to be announced at Conservative conference, with the strong possibility of a vote next year. Once the date is the diary we can expect the EU to dominate both the headlines and conversations in Westminster corridors, and could see the unexpected spectacle of David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn campaigning on the same side.

Meanwhile there will be plenty of controversy around domestic policy as the Trade Union Bill is expected to be debated shortly after the House returns, and the arguments around the extension of Right-to-Buy show no signs of stopping, with even Cameron’s would-be-successor Boris Johnson expressing concerns about the policy. And that’s just the next few weeks…

We’re gearing up for the coming year at Connect HQ with a series of training courses on how to work in the new political landscape, including our training courses on how to work with the Conservative Government and the impact of the SNP on Westminster politics. For more information on our courses, please contact Charles Pitt on

 Connect will also be heading to all four party conferences (yes, even Lib Dems!). We have over twenty years’ experience of providing award-winning party conference support to our clients and know how to derive the highest possible value from attending any of the political party conferences. For more information on how we can support your party conference activity, please contact Fiona Gardner on

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