Redwood takes stock on next steps for Britain’s 54th Prime Minister.
Theresa May was handed the keys to Number 10 today following a Conservative leadership contest that was as brutal as it was short.
The new Prime Minister is no stranger to a challenge – as the UK’s second longest-serving Home Secretary in 100 years, reputed to be one of the toughest jobs in the Cabinet and a graveyard for career politicians, she overcame clashes with everyone from the United States government to thePolice Federation. Her durability to-date has been attributed to stubbornness, well-honed negotiating skills and a refusal to engage in tea-room gossiping and plotting.
These attributes will be tested to the maximum as the new Prime Minister faces a series of unenviable tasks including uniting the Conservative Party following a damaging referendum campaign and leading Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union – all in the context of a narrow 17 seat majority in parliament. May’s statement on Monday that “Brexit means Brexit” puts to bed any speculation that a second referendum is likely under her stewardship.
Beyond Brexit, on Monday May gave a clear indication that she intends to pursue a different course to that of the Cameron / Osborne partnership. Promising “a different kind of Conservatism” and “a break with the past”, much weight was given to business policy with an emphasis on corporate governance. Key pledges from a business perspective included:
-Curbing boardroom excesses and tackling the pay gap between workers and senior executives
-The inclusion of employee and consumer representatives on company boards
-Transparency on bonus targets
-Measures to break up business cartels, including those in energy markets
On the key issues facing the property industry, the new Prime Minister has stayed tight-lipped on the new government’s direction of travel. David Cameron mentioned the need for further planning reform in his final performance at PMQs today, and no doubt announcements will be made in the coming weeks. Redwood will provide further updates in due course.
In the meantime Theresa May’s first job following today’s formalities, which included a visit to Buckingham Palace where the Queen will officially ask her to form a new government, will be to select a new Cabinet. Notably for the property industry, the Daily Mail reports that Brandon Lewis – a key ally of May – is in-line for a promotion within the Cabinet to Transport Secretary, thus leaving a space available for a new Minister of State for Housing and Planning.
The Guardian also reports that “appointments are intended to create a more gender-balanced cabinet” with allies Amber Rudd, currently the Energy Secretary, and Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, in-line for promotion. The focus however will be party unity, with prominent ‘Brexiteers’ also expected to feature on the front bench. May will be hoping that strategic appointments are enough to provide positive momentum with which to tackle the very significant obstacles ahead.
In other news, the Labour leadership saga continues and we now know that Angela Eagle and Owen Smith will both be on the ballot paper to challenge Jeremy Corbyn. With the incumbent reportedly retaining strong support among the Labour grassroots despite losing the favour of 80 per cent of the Parliamentary Labour Party, it’s clear that a solution to Labour’s woes is not on the horizon any time soon.