“Too much politics” is set to continue with Parliament resuming today – four key Parliamentary dates before Christmas
Saturday September 24
The result of the Labour leadership contest may now be predictable – Jeremy Corbyn is odds on favourite – but what happens after that is far less so. Will Jeremy reach out and form an inclusive Shadow Cabinet? Will he be able to?
The key issue is how many of those 172 who expressed their lack of confidence in him in the PLP vote of 28th June will accept positions. Or be voted onto the Shadow Cabinet by their colleagues, or the wider membership. Many arguably went beyond a point of no return. Their options will be to form another party or, more likely, start planning another leadership challenge. What is certain is that Labour Party Conference, starting the day after the result is announced, will be like no other.
Wednesday 5th October
Theresa May’s party conference speech will be closely scrutinised. Some thought it could see the announcement of a date for a General Election, although she has now ruled out a snap election. Might there be hints about one, however, in Spring 2017?
The fundamental question is whether May’s Government will run the country on a different manifesto to the one she was elected on when Team Cameron won a slim majority just 16 months ago? With different policies already emerging, from the Treasury to education, and more likely to follow as new Secretaries of State find their feet, the answer seemingly will be yes. Entirely ruling out a General Election before 2020 would therefore be unwise. What is certain is that this year there will be, quite rightly, more attention to what she says than what shoes she’s wearing. Her own cautious nature and the (not entirely insurmountable) requirements of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act mean this is now less likely.
Thursday 20th October
After an initial up-beat statement today, the first oral questions to the new Secretary of State for Exiting Europe will take place at 0930. Will newly appointed Secretary of State, the populist and popular, David Davis, a backbencher since his resignation in a fit of freedom-inspired pique back in 2008, acquit himself well? More importantly, will there be any clarity on the two great post Brexit questions: how does the government square the circle of full access to the European economic market AND placate those who want to see restrictions on migration? And will Parliament have an opportunity to debate and approve the decision – when it comes – to trigger article 50?
Commentators will also look for any differences of opinion with Theresa May whose first 100 days as Prime Minister will be marked the very next day. Brexit certainly provides plenty of scope for disappointment and dissension – and not just in the Conservative Party. But will the inevitable Cabinet divisions to come, and hard decisions – not just on Europe: for example on Heathrow and Hinkley – mean the current honeymoon will already be over? It is certainly likely to be fading.
Wednesday 30th November (TBC)
The Autumn Statement – traditionally on the last Wednesday of November – will be eagerly anticipated not least because the Government, and therefore the country, has no current overarching economic policy. Phillip Hammond will have the opportunity to set out his own approach. Will this mark a fundamental shift away from Osbornomics? What will he say to calm the fears of Japanese companies? What signals will there be for potential Chinese, and other, investors in infrastructure? If there is a shift away from defeating the deficit does this mean any kind of relief for public sector employees? Equally importantly will the new numbers add up to less or more equality and opportunity? What is certain is that the Statement will be judged against Theresa May’s fine rhetoric about social mobility and leaving no-one left behind outside Number Ten on the day she became the UK’s second female Prime Minister.
Of course there will be many other key dates in Parliament – events, dear boy, events! – and very important ones not in London at all. TUC Conference is next week. There is the reopening of the Scottish Parliament where, as in the resumed Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies, legislation of the new administrations elected only last May will be progressed. The selection of candidates for devolved metro mayors will continue. And on Tuesday November 8th the 58th President of the USA is elected. All these and more will have ramifications for politics and policy. What is certain is that the best way to keep informed is through Connect’s intelligence and monitoring service and looking out for our blogs this Autumn.