Four challenges the next PM will face: Brexit to dominate government business for at least another year

Passing a Queen’s Speech, navigating Brexit legislation, dealing with the fallout, and setting out new priorities will be the key issues for whoever is in No.10 in 2020


By Jonathan Owen

29 Nov 2019

The next government faces being bogged down in dealing with Brexit for the whole of next year at the expense of delaying delivering on its manifesto commitments, the Institute for Government has warned.

In an assessment of four major challenges facing the next government, Dr Hannah White, the deputy director of the Institute for Government, notes that the Queen’s Speech will be delayed until the New Year if the election does not produce an outright winner.

“The civil service has indicated that we could see the Queen’s Speech as early as 19 December. That’s assuming a clear-cut election result – if any coalition or confidence and supply negotiations are required, we almost certainly won’t see a State Opening of Parliament before the new year.”


The first challenge facing the next government will be to get its Queen’s Speech through Parliament and “proving that it commands the confidence of the Commons."

It will then become embroiled in the business of Brexit according to her assessment, which was released yesterday, both in passing legislation needed in both the Conservative and Labour plans, and in dealing with the implications.

A Conservative government will want to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill “as rapidly as parliamentarians will allow in order to meet the new deadline of 31 January for the UK’s departure from the EU.”

White added that a Labour government would “need to draft and pass the legislation for a second referendum in its first three months in office, in parallel with its planned negotiations with the EU.”

The third challenge is to deal with the consequences of its Brexit policy

“In all scenarios, parliament’s role in dealing with the consequences of Brexit will dominate at least the next year. Under a Conservative majority, this would mean parliamentary oversight of negotiations with the EU on the future relationship and passing bills to implement policy in areas previously overseen by the EU,” said White.

Being able to quickly move on from Brexit to delivering on other manifesto promises “might be an unrealistic aspiration”, but a new government’s fourth challenge will be signalling its new priorities, she said.

“The new government will also set to work with the civil service to refine its policy proposals and work out which will require legislation to deliver.

“A further task for 2020 will be to conduct a proper three-year spending review so that government departments know how to budget for the next few years. That is likely to conclude by the autumn, unless the outcome of the election is particularly messy,” she said.

In terms of how easy the next government will find it to achieve its aims, the views of individual MPs on Brexit, their previous experience and their wider views on a range of policies will be of crucial importance.

“In the last few years, MPs have had plenty of experience of rebelling and forming coalitions across party boundaries to achieve their aims – it will be interesting to see to what extent these behaviours persist in the new parliament.”

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