Cameron out, May in, a new government, and a Labour leadership contest…
Week in Westminster
Published: 15 July 2016 | Author: Michelle Vosper
Following the withdrawal of Andrea Leadsom from the Conservative leadership contest on Monday, Theresa May became our prime minister on Wednesday evening, with David Cameron stepping down earlier in the day.
Ms May wasted no time in announcing her new Cabinet replacing key names associated with the Cameron administration, most notably George Osborne, Michael Gove and Oliver Letwin. The job of negotiating Britain’s exit from the EU will dominate the political agenda for the foreseeable future. As a result, the new PM has established a new Department for Brexit alongside a new Department for International Trade. Also, BIS and DECC have been merged into a new Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with higher education and skills transferred to the Department for Education.
The Cabinet ins and outs…
- Philip Hammond - Chancellor of the Exchequer
- Boris Johnson - Foreign Secretary
- Amber Rudd - Home Secretary
- Michael Fallon - Defence Secretary (No change)
- Liam Fox - International Trade Secretary
- David Davis - Secretary of State for Exiting the EU
- Liz Truss - Justice Secretary
- Justine Greening - Education Secretary
- Gavin Williamson - Chief Whip
- Patrick McLoughlin - Party Chairman and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
- David Lidington - Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council.
- Baroness Evans - Leader of the House of Lords
- Jeremy Hunt - Health Secretary (No change)
- Chris Grayling - Transport Secretary
- Andrea Leadsom - Environment Secretary
- Damian Green - Work and Pensions Secretary
- Sajid Javid - Communities and Local Government Secretary
- James Brokenshire - Northern Ireland Secretary
- Greg Clark – Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary
- Priti Patel – International Development Secretary
- Karen Bradley – Culture Secretary
- Alun Cairns - Welsh Secretary (No change)
- David Mundel - Scottish Secretary (No change)
- David Gauke - Chief Secretary to the Treasury
- George Osborne - Chancellor of the Exchequer
- Michael Gove – Justice Secretary
- Nicky Morgan – Education Secretary
- John Whittingdale – Culture Secretary
- Oliver Letwin – Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
- Theresa Villiers - Northern Ireland Secretary (resigned)
- Stephen Crabb – Work and Pensions Secretary (resigned)
- Mark Harper - Chief Whip (resigned)
The new chancellor Philip Hammond has confirmed that there will be no Brexit budget, and an autumn statement will be delivered as usual. David Davis, newly appointed Brexit secretary has reportedly said Article 50 should be triggered “before or by the beginning of next year”.
While Brexit will overshadow any domestic agenda that Ms May would have otherwise wanted to pursue, she has given clear indications that “housing matters” and stressed the need to get more houses built. In her speech launching her campaign to become PM she said: “we need to do far more to get houses built…unless we deal with the housing deficit, we will see house prices keep on rising. The divide between those who inherit wealth and those who don’t will become more pronounced. And more and more of the country’s money will go into expensive housing instead of more productive investments that generate more economic growth.” May’s speech with the strapline “a Britain that works for everyone”, gives a flavour of the direction of her domestic policies.
And now for the Labour Party…
Following weeks of controversy, including the resignation of most of Jeremy Corbyn's frontbenchers, former shadow business secretary Angela Eagle announced on Monday that she would be contesting the leadership of the party. Ms Eagle launched her bid for the position calling herself a “practical socialist”. Former shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith has also joined the contest pledging to offer a second referendum to ratify a Brexit negotiation.
The Labour National Executive Committee ruled that Corbyn must be included on the leadership ballot, despite his inability to secure nominations from the Parliamentary Labour Party and European Parliamentary Labour Party. The NEC confirmed that the incumbent leader does not face the same requirement to earn support from 20% of parliamentarians.
The contest will take place over the next two and a half months, with the result announced on the 24 September, the eve of the Labour Party’s annual conference.
And finally for the other business of the week…
Just prior to the announcement that the Bank of England voted 8 to 1 to hold the bank rate at 0.5%, Bank governor Mark Carney met with the Commons Treasury committee for their bi-annual hearing on the Bank’s Financial Stability Report. On the housing and mortgage markets, the committee asked questions about household resilience in terms of the Brexit vote and the possibility of higher interest rates. Dr Carney said that British household indebtedness had improved, noted the reforms designed to control high loan to value mortgage lending, but stressed that it was important to ensure credit was available to enable those who needed to make essential financial decisions, like buying a home, to be able to do so. MPC member Richard Sharp focused on buy to let, predicting that banks would hold off on resuming aggressive lending until the policy environment provided more certainty. On the possibility of rising interest rates, Dr Carney noted that the MPC was currently reflecting on the impact of such rises on household spending and would be providing views on this.
Following an inquiry, the Lords economic affairs committee is recommending that government must lift its target by 50% and build 300,000 home a year to tackle the housing crisis. In its report, Building more homes, the committee also suggests that local authorities and housing associations must be freed to build substantial numbers of homes for rent and for sale. We provided both written and oral evidence for this inquiry and have numerous mentions throughout this report.
The government has published regulations that will bring into force various provisions of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 on the dates specified.
Stamp duty land tax will be replaced in Wales in April 2018 by a new transaction tax. In advance of that, the Welsh government is consulting on a higher rate of stamp duty land tax for additional residential properties, as introduced by the UK and Scottish government. Views are invited by 31 August.