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Prime Minister

The New Cabinet - 1 Month On

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The New Cabinet - 1 Month On

Yes, it has now been over a month since Theresa May’s reshuffle. Doesn’t time fly? Here, we present some of our new Ministers with a report card from their first month.

 

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TOP OF THE CLASS

There can only be one place to start. New DCMS Secretary, Matt Hancock, and the now famous (or infamous?) Matt Hancock App. The app (with over 1,000 downloads), the first of its kind, updates users on Mr Hancock’s activities and allows members of the public to sign up as friends and chat with other users of the app.

To date, the app appears to have drawn an eclectic variety of users with one user (as shown below) particularly engaged if not entirely serious!

It is easy to poke fun at the Matt Hancock app. If this seems familiar you may be remembering a Thick of It episode and a hapless Minister, but by not taking it too seriously, Hancock is getting good interaction at a time when the wider party has been having somewhat of a crisis of confidence when it comes to social media.

 

MUST DO BETTER

A blog post written in 2012 by new Tory Vice-Chairman Ben Bradley has recently resurfaced following some media digging after his promotion. The blog post suggested benefit claimants should have vasectomies. Rightly, Mr Bradley has apologised.

Alas, Mr Bradley’s problems do not end there. He has also been forced to apologise for posting a tweet saying Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn passed British secrets to a Czechoslovakian spy. However, as one of our recent blogs has suggested he isn’t the only one to have said something on a public forum he later regretted. Still, Must Do Better!

 

TOUGHEST START

Which Secretary of State has the toughest new gig - it's a close run contest? New Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley has not enjoyed the easiest of starts. Inheriting a row over "regulatory alignment", stalled power-sharing arrangements in Belfast and managing the DUP Ms Bradley has quite a challenge on her hands.

The Northern Ireland post has never been the easiest role in Government. Despite the success of the Good Friday agreement, tensions have persisted. In addition, she loses key SpAd Peter Cardwell to the Home Secretary at Easter. Ms Bradley could be forgiven for wishing all she had to worry about was an appropriate black dress for the BAFTAs.

Onto our second candidate. In January, David Gauke became the fifth Justice Secretary in three years. However, any hopes of a quiet introduction were quickly swept aside. Gauke, a solicitor by trade, was immediately faced with the decision over whether to pursue a judicial review to stop the release of sex attacker John Worboys. He declined this opportunity. In response, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, announced he would launch a legal challenge, as did some of Worboys victims. Expect this story to run and run and pressure to increase on Gauke to find a way to stop Worboys being released.

 

ONE TO WATCH

With many junior Tory MPs positioning themselves for what follows May, this is a crowded field. However, there is one clear choice; new Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani. Ms Ghani in answering Transport Questions became the first Muslim women Minister to speak at the Despatch Box. A notable first and one to watch.

 

CONCLUSION

Ministers; both new and old continue to grapple with ongoing political headaches such as pressure on living wages, a house building crisis, the NHS and of course Brexit. Theresa May clings on, Labour continue trying to keep their head down. UKIP have a new leader (again) and another new anti-Brexit party has been created.

This conclusion could give the indication that our politics is entirely bleak and predictable. But that would be wrong.

As we all battle through the daily negative political headlines, taking a longer view reminds us politics can be transformational and inspirational. As this photo of over 100 female parliamentarians from across the political spectrum joining together to celebrate the anniversary of female suffrage, not all politics is inconsequential. And as Polly MacKenzie has recently written in the Evening Standard, maybe it is time for us all to give up despair in politics and focus on the good we can do. Perhaps, that is something to reflect on.

 

CASE STUDY: TORIES AND SOCIAL INTERACTION

New party Chairman Brandon Lewis has also identified social media as a prominent battleground. He has written of how many Tory voters are too shy to fight Labour online. A coordinated social media strategy had seen many Tory MPs bombard social media with pro-environmental messages after Blue Planet 2.

It is not merely Blue Planet 2 which has been causing excitement on the Tory backbenches. According to an article from Iain Martin in The Times, Hollywood blockbuster Darkest Hour focusing on the life of Winston Churchill is leading Tory MPs to consider “action this day” and removing Theresa May.

Watch this space!

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How does #GE2017 affect Brexit negotiations?

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How does #GE2017 affect Brexit negotiations?

On Monday David Davis went to Brussels to kick off the first round of formal negotiations, with the urbane Michel Barnier. The FT have reported the weakness of May would cast a shadow over our Brexit negotiations, a view shared widely amongst the commentariat.  I sat down to challenge this bit of ‘received wisdom’.

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Three important people you've (probably) never heard of...

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Three important people you've (probably) never heard of...

The quality of our future arrangements with the EU and the rest of the world will be directly related to the calibre of the teams negotiating them. Right now, across all Government Departments there is a rapid scramble to assemble those teams to deliver the best Brexit deal possible. 

Given yesterday's turn of events we await the appointment of a new 'Brexit' Minister in Theresa May's new cabinet. Commentators are tipping, Leave campaigner, current leader of the Commons and May's campaign organiser, Chris Grayling for the role. Beyond that key appointment, who will be quantifying the civil service skills gap, driving the recruitment and ultimately presenting our new Prime Minister with the scenario plans and costed options from which they will determine their trade negotiation mandate?

Read on to meet the three men (yes, all men) you may never have heard of who will play a key role over the next few months.

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In the brave new world of 'Brexit' - what now?

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In the brave new world of 'Brexit' - what now?

Despite the fact that we will have a new Prime Minister by Wednesday, we know the only thing we can be certain of in the next 6 months is uncertainty. Today we are sharing our take on the brave new world of ‘Brexit’ and some practical tips for businesses and organisations trying to catch up with our fluid political landscape.

Above and beyond your business as usual public affairs engagement, what can you do now? How will 'Brexit' be implemented and who are the key players? For a quick check list click here but for a more detailed update read on.

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What happens next if we vote 'Brexit' tomorrow....?

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What happens next if we vote 'Brexit' tomorrow....?

We believe it pays to be prepared and that nothing is a foregone conclusion in politics. That is why we are today sharing our guide to what will happen next if there is a Brexit vote tomorrow. We look at the timings of the political, rather than the economic impact, reviewing all the speculation so that you don't have to. With the eve of poll polling showing the two campaigns neck and neck, we hope this will either be redundant by Friday or serve as a starter guide to the fall out from an unprecedented turning point. Make a cup of tea and read on...

Those with less time for the finer points of political process may prefer to start with our two-page summary table.

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Legacy and momentum the twin aims for Queen's Speech 2016

Legacy and momentum the twin aims for Queen's Speech 2016

This year’s Queen’s Speech is set to be a low key affair. Despite an apparently easy task - with a comfortable lead in the polls and an Opposition failing to make an impact - the Government has had a choppy start to 2016 and needs to use tomorrow’s political pomp and circumstance to re-establish momentum.
 
Thanks to the increasingly turbulent EU Referendum campaign, a poorly received Budget and a series of u-turns inflicted by pressure from Conservative backbenchers and the House of Lords, the government ship has been listing and it is putting Cameron’s legacy at risk. Read our preview of the Queen’s Speech 2016 and what it means.

Keep reading...