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News Brexit - Press releases

Monday's Business and Politics round-up

16 Dec 2019

Person reading the news on their smartphone on a train

Good morning!

Boris Johnson will welcome new MPs to Westminster later today as well as enact a minor Cabinet reshuffle. 

It comes after the Conservatives won an 80-seat majority in last week’s general election. Many of the 109 new MPs won in areas historically held by Labour. 

The Queen will formally open Parliament on Thursday when she sets out the government’s legislative ambitions. 

A Number 10 source said the first piece of legislation MPs will vote on is the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, in the spirit of “getting Brexit done”. 

Given the scale of the Tory majority, the flagship Brexit legislation is widely expected to pass in time for Johnson to deliver Brexit on January 31. 

The IoD’s Business and Politics Round-Up will be taking a break until the New Year, so we wish you a happy festive season! 


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When sorry is all that you can say

The Labour leadership apologised over the weekend for the party’s “catastrophic” performance in Thursday’s general election. Writing in the Sunday Mirror, Jeremy Corbyn said he was “sorry we came up short”. 

In a separate piece for the Observer, the Labour leader said “I am proud that on austerity, on corporate power, on inequality and on the climate emergency we have won the arguments and rewritten the terms of the political debate”.  

Speaking yesterday, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said “If anyone’s to blame its me, full stop”. He added Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey “could be a brilliant leader”. It comes after Corbyn said he would step down as leader in the early part of next year. 

Indeed, Labour MPs have begun rounding on the party leadership after its worst election result since 1935. Harriet Harman has said Corbyn should step down now, while Wes Streeting called the leader’s post-election response “insulting”. 

Corbyn is reportedly under pressure to prevent allies in Labour’s National Executive Committee from fixing the race to succeed him with a far-left candidate. Members of the NEC will hold a meeting on January 8.  

Overhauling Whitehall 

Boris Johnson, advised by his top aide Dominic Cummings, is looking to overhaul the UK civil service by making it easier to bring in external experts and to fire civil servants.  

One proposed change is merging the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy with the Department for International Trade in order to focus on revitalising poorer areas and global trade deals. 

Other suggested reforms include making climate change a standalone department so that Johnson can claim the environment is a priority, and establishing a “super-department” for education, research & development and skills. 

Cummings, who used to work in government, has previously criticised the way Whitehall functions, complaining “almost no one is ever fired” and that “failure is normal, it is not something to be avoided”. 

But the plans have drawn criticism from the likes of the Institute for Government. Associate Director Tim Durrant said the extent of the changes means civil servants will be “distracted with working out what their jobs are” rather than doing their jobs.  

Banking on it 

Ministers are set to choose the next Bank of England governor in the coming days, which would mean current governor Mark Carney can leave the role on his scheduled departure date of January 31. 

Minouche Shafik, director of the London School of Economics, is one of the favourites to succeed Carney. She previously had roles at the Bank as well as the World Bank and the IMF. She was also Permanent Secretary at the UK Department for International Development. 

Civil servants drew up a shortlist of candidates during the summer. Other reported frontrunners include Andrew Bailey, chief executive at the Financial Conduct Authority, and Kevin Warsh, a former top official at the US Federal Reserve. 

The Treasury insisted yesterday that no final decision had yet been made and there was unlikely to be clarity before Christmas, but the FT reports civil servants are keen for Chancellor Sajid Javid to come to a decision sooner rather than later. 

The government has already committed the next governor to questioning by a parliamentary committee on or before February 1. In a minor Cabinet reshuffle expected today, Javid himself is expected to keep his job at the Treasury. 


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