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by GK Strategy 4th July, 2017
3 min read

While the cat is away…

Much has been written in recent weeks about the vacuum of authority and power within Downing Street. This is certainly true. We have a PM who is unable to progress any personal policy or political agendas, and at best will keep the country’s head above water as Brexit dominates the agenda.

Power does not disappear, however, it shifts.

For the past 20 years political power has been concentrated in Number 10 and 11 Downing Street. They have dominated and bullied all arms of Government.  Major Ministries of State and large Local Authorities have been cowed into submission by the habits set by Brown and Blair. Cameron, Osborne and Clegg were little different. Their initial political unity, tight control of policy committees and the media ensured this despite a weaker parliamentary position.

May continued this theme, running Whitehall through a very small band of loyal and aggressive advisers.

June 8th this all changed. For the first time in a political generation Downing Street resembles a black hole. The closest, ‘abusive’, advisers, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, have been sacked after the disastrous election campaign and subsequent result. The reign of terror is over and you can almost hear the Ministers, civil servants and LA CEOs rejoice. The shackles are off- let the fun begin.

Ministers’ new found freedom is evidenced by the recent spate of radio interviews, TV appearances and remarks from the likes of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson on public sector pay. Less than a month ago this policy divergence would not have been tolerated.

The PM’s domestic agenda is dead due to the confidence and supply deal with the DUP. The vote on fox hunting has been shelved, grammar schools have been dropped and pension reform has been forgotten. Brexit will now dominate the legislative agenda, for at least the next two years.

This presents a huge opportunity for Government departments and their Ministers to progress their own political and policy agendas. These will not be progressed by legislation but through department guidance, funding priorities and task forces. Downing Street will oppose much of these, but it will have no authority to stop them. The PM needs her Ministers to support her on the really big things, and in return they will be free to run wild. Considering the election was not fought about over Brexit but over domestic issues, this is good news for an electorate evidently tired, weary and fed up of conservative and austerity policy and ready to embrace a far more progressive agenda than anticipated. The future of the left, in comparison to Brexit, seems more secure since the election as we will see policy driven by the increasingly powerful Secretaries of State rather than the Prime Minister.

To understand how your business will be affected by the minority Government please get in touch with luke@gkstrategy.com

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