As the dust settled on a spectacular election result for the Conservatives, David Cameron’s first task was to select a new Tory-only Cabinet – an opportunity few people predicted he would have prior to the election.
At the outset, it looked like business as usual with top ministers, including George Osborne, Philip Hammond and Jeremy Hunt, keeping their old posts.
The Prime Minister reinforced the Conservatives’ election slogan – “the real party of the working people” – with emphasis placed on the appointment of Sajid Javid, a former banker, as Business Secretary.
The property industry appeared to welcome the appointment of Greg Clark as Communities Secretary, replacing Eric Pickles. A former minister for decentralisation and planning, Clark is one of the architects of the last government’s localism agenda and generally viewed by the industry to be a safe pair of hands. Rumour has it that his appointment is an effort by the Government to form more conciliatory relationships with local authorities and smooth the path for devolution.
After some confusion, Brandon Lewis remains Housing Minister despite reports he had been replaced by Mark Francois. The latter has in in fact been given the Coastal Communities brief.
Other key ministerial changes at DCLG included the appointment of James Wharton as Minister in charge of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and Marcus Jones as Local Government Minister.
Budget 2015 – round two
George Osborne announced today that he will deliver an emergency Budget, the second in 2015 (and carefully branded a ‘stability Budget’ by the Conservatives), on 8 July. The Chancellor attempted to justify the unusual move, explaining that he doesn’t, “want to wait to deliver on the commitments we have made to working people”.
Details of the Budget announcement are not yet available, although public attention will likely focus on the Conservatives’ planned £12bn of welfare cuts.
The Queen’s Speech
One of the highlights of the parliamentary calendar, the Queen’s Speech taking place on 27 May will set out the government’s legislative programme for the year ahead.
Reports indicate that a Devolution Bill is expected, alongside new anti-terror laws, and Redwood anticipates further Bills will be trailed in due course.
The Chancellor used his first speech of the new parliament to extend his ‘Northern Powerhouse‘ vision, calling other cities to follow the example of Greater Manchester.
The speech refreshed the pledges set out in the Conservative manifesto, with further devolved powers offered to cities that opt for a directly elected mayor. The BBC reported a mixed reaction from local authority chiefs, but this is unlikely to deter the Chancellor, who has also appointed former Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill to drive forward the devolution agenda.
Redwood will provide full updates on key outcomes following the Queen’s Speech and Budget announcements.