Today, the Queen officially opened a new Parliament session for the second time this year, following the recent election. The Queens Speech, written by the Government, is also read out, which outlines the priority of the next Government, and we looked at what that speech meant for a Stronger North East.
Global North East
The priority of the new Government will be leaving the European Union on 31st January 2020. It is largely expected that the first bill brought before Parliament will be the Withdrawal Bill and was a core tenant of the Conservative election campaign. Exiting with clarity and certainty is paramount.
The Government will then pursue a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union that “benefits the whole of the UK” and seek further deals with strong economic trading partners. This promise should be treated with caution, as leaving EU institutions will put up trading barriers with European partners, and models forecast a 6% GDP regional drop under an FTA Brexit.
Connected North East
Transforming local infrastructure, digital and physical, through a £100bn investment plan to share prosperity across the UK. Business have wanted an integrated and balanced system that helps attract investment, move freight and increase tourism.
Competitive North East
The Conservatives will be keen to keep new MPs gained in areas like the North East. Investment in local infrastructure and Research & Development (R&D) was highlighted as a priority for regional growth.
Review of the business rate system was also mentioned, in a bid to reduce a £13bn burden. The next revaluation of the rates has been brought forward to 2021, and will be done every three, rather than five, years.
Working North East
Having already announced an end to Freedom of Movement in October, this time the Queen outlined a future points-based immigration system, based on skill needs of and contribution to the economy. Visa schemes to be developed to support Public Services and seasonal workers.
The speech gave the impression that encouraging investment and rebalancing could be a serious part of the next Government’s agenda. While remaining optimistic, this is on the back of a 2017 manifesto that identified closing the London divide as “the greatest prize in Britain”.
It will be important that promises are delivered properly, not ideologically. Government should look to work with business if it wants to tackle these issues properly, and with clarity so that business can properly prepare and grow with confidence in the future.