20 Apr 2017
Policy area: Town centre & Retail
This week Parliament voted with a huge majority for a snap general election on 8 June, called by Prime Minister Theresa May on the basis that the alternative, a general election in 2020, would mean that the final stage of Article 50 negotiations – the “most difficult stage” – would be coincide with the election campaign with a negative impact. This is perhaps understandable given that the Parliament has been given an explicit say on the outcome of the negotiations, as well as providing more governing time for whoever takes us through the negotiations to complete the implementation of the implications of the Withdrawal Treaty at national level.
Officials and Ministers across Whitehall were already about to undergo the restrictions of purdah on major policy announcements and public appearances due to the local elections in early May for local councils and the Metro Mayors. This period appears likely to now be extended, as it is convention for sitting governments not to use the close of a parliamentary session to entrench decisions or to prejudice electoral outcomes. This may mean that a few announcements and policy decisions will be delayed, and could be subject to change in the scenario that current polls narrow over the course of the electoral period.
Individual policy desks at BPF will be analysing this and feeding back to members in the coming weeks, as well as providing analysis of the manifestos of each of the key political parties in due course. Purdah rules are somewhat discretionary and it can sometimes be seen as prejudicing an electoral outcome not to make an announcement relating to a key policy. This means we will be remaining vigilant, and keeping in touch with our contacts, even though we expect the overall pipeline of public policy to slow a little pending 8 June.