The Commons Rejects Taking Back Control



This week in Westminster the Conservative Party had its first leadership ballot and the House of Commons once again voted against an opportunity to prevent a No Deal Brexit. Meanwhile the Labour Party published its civil society strategy in the same week that Communities in Charge published their analysis of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (which comes with dire warnings for some UK regions). As usual we have some great events for your diary, and a spot of recommended reading for your day.  

House of Commons rejects taking control

  •  Jeremy Corbyn led motion on Wednesday defeated 309 to 298 

  •  The motion aimed to prevent a No Deal Brexit by taking control over Parliament’s timetable on the 25th June 

A No Deal Brexit is still the default position of the UK leaving the EU. The House of Commons has once again rejected an opportunity to block it. Jeremy Corbyn tabled a cross-party motion that would have given control of the business of the Commons on the 25th June to the Commons. This would have enabled the Commons to propose and vote on a piece of legislation that may have prevented a No Deal Brexit.

The motion was defeated despite 10 Conservative MP rebels voting for the motion because eight Labour MPs voted against and four abstained. There were several potential Conservative rebels who, including leadership contender Rory Stewart, didn’t back the motion. Some saying this was because the motion gave a ‘blank cheque’ rather than specifics on what the business in Parliament on the 25th would be.

There is an argument among commentators that many MP’s who don’t back a No Deal Brexit is waiting for the last possible opportunity to do so. This is due to a variety of factors including internal party politics, a conception that the threat of no deal is not immediate, and balancing constituents demands. The key thing to remember is that opportunities for Parliament to prevent a No Deal are running out. They will have few legislative opportunities before the summer recess (the date of which is yet to be announced), and minimal time between the return in September and October 31st. The piece by the Institute for Government is a good reference guide as to what is possible. Read that here. Until MPs vote for something else, No Deal is still the default position on how the UK will leave the EU on the 31st October.

Read our latest blog where we take stock of the preparation for a No Deal Brexit.

Conservative Leadership Latest

  •  Boris Johnson way ahead of other candidates, more than 2.5X more votes than Hunt in second place 

  •  Three candidates knocked out, Leadsom, McVey, Harper. This also means there are no women still standing in the race 

  •  Next ballot round is on Tuesday 18th. Candidates need 33 votes to progress to the third round 

This week the Conservative party held its first-round ballot. Boris Johnson stormed ahead with 114 votes, far succeeding the second place Jeremy Hunt on 43. 

The full results were:

  1. Boris 114

  2. Hunt 43

  3. Gove 37

  4. Raab 27

  5. Javid 23

  6. Hancock 20

  7. Stewart 19

  8. Harper 10

  9. Leadsom 11

  10. McVey 9

With less than 17 votes Mark Harper, Andrea Leadsom, and Esther McVey were knocked out of the race. The second round ballot is on Tuesday 18th, where candidates will need 33 votes to keep in the race. Before the ballot there is a public, and private hustings. Channel 4 is hosting a 90 minute hustings on Sunday 16th at 18:30. The BBC will host one on BBC One on Tuesday 18th. The BBC are crowdsourcing questions. You can submit yours here.

If trends continue it looks like Boris Johnson is going to be the clear winner. However it could be less certain when it progresses to the Conservative membership voting stage. Recently Anoosh Chakelian of the NewStatesman has been out speaking with Conservative party members. The response was not a landslide for Johnson. In her article (here) many feel he will win, and will likely vote for him, but he is not necessarily their first choice. It suggests that victory is not sewn up for Johnson, and he could yet make a gaff big enough to derail him or the second candidate may run a campaign good enough to persuade members to vote for them instead.   

Leadership Timetable

  • Sunday 16th June - Channel 4 is holding a 90 minute debate with remaining candidates from the first ballot

  • Monday 17th June - Second hustings for Conservative MPs only

  • Tuesday 18th June - Second ballot of Conservative MPs

  • Wednesday 19th June - More MP ballots. A series of ballots to whittle candidates down until two remain

  • Saturday 22nd June - Voting by Conservative Members voting on the two candidates begins

  • Monday 22nd July - The winner is confirmed, and the UK will have a new PM

Labour Party Civil Society Strategy Published

  • “From Paternalism to Participation”- the Labour Party’s new civil society strategy is available here

  •  On UK Shared Prosperity Fund “Labour will ensure the level of structural and investment funding lost from the EU is matched in the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. We will set up an advisory group with strong representation from civil society, local communities and local authorities to help allocate the funding.”

  •  “Labour will set up a Communities Innovation Fund using funding from dormant assets and philanthropic giving.”

  •  Labour would repeal the Lobbying Act and replace it with a new Community Empowerment Charter

This week the Labour Party published its strategy on Civil society titled “From Paternalism to Participation” lead by the Shadow Minister for Civil Society Steve Reed MP.  The headline policy announcements in the document include scrapping the Lobbying Act, create a ‘Right to Space’, a ‘Public Right to Control’, set up a ‘Communities Innovation Fund’ and commit to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Key for us is the commitments on funding after leaving the EU. In this document, Labour commits to ensuring the level of structural and investment funding lost from the EU is matched in the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). They propose setting up an ‘advisory group with strong representation from civil society, local communities, and local authorities’ to decide the allocation of funding. It is a welcome move that civil society will be central to the UKSPF decision-making process. The next step will be to map out in the details of how the UKSPF will be designed, including what the funding criteria will be, whether it will improve on accessibility for smaller organisations and whether the approach will be less bureaucratic that current EU funding.

If your organisation would like further information on the Labour Party strategy they have included contact details to Nick Beall, Office of Steve Reed MP.

T: 020 7219 7297

UK Shared Prosperity Fund Analysis

  •  “It will be like handing every Londoner a cheque for over £200 and taking £700 from every Welsh person,” 

  •  Communities in Charge release their analysis of the UKSPF (here

Communities in Charge, a campaign led by Co-operatives UK, Locality, and the Plunkett Foundation, have published their document analysing the future of funding and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). 

Currently, the distribution of EU structural funding is weighted heavily towards less developed regions of the UK, for example, Wales and the North East. Little detail has been laid out by the government on how the UKSPF will be structured however if current government methods are replicated then less developed regions will miss out because currently the government focuses on big infrastructure in big cities. Therefore if the government follows current patterns of redistributing funds several UK regions will lose out compared to current EU priorities because of the UK governments focus on big items in big cities. 

The funding differences between regions could be huge. Tony Armstrong, Locality, said “It will be like handing every Londoner a cheque for over £200 and taking £700 from every Welsh person,” and this is borne out in the figures in the document. Wales would be at -£743.11 per head, by far the biggest loser. The North East would be at -£181.29, whereas Yorkshire and Humber would be better off, but only by £3.84 per head. London and the South East however would benefit from £215.32 and £130.35 extra per head respectively. You can find all these figures on page 15 here.

The Government has yet to provide answers for this and the Spending Review that may have produced some has been postponed. Communities proposes some potential answers to the questions raised by the sector in their document however, we are unlikely to get any answers from the Government in response until Autumn after the new PM is in place and Parliament returns from summer recess.

For the last 18 months, we have been visiting different parts of the UK to have conversations with local civil society groups. From these conversations we have found that the issue for loss of EU funding remains a huge concern for a number of organisations and community groups. The sector deserves business certainty as much as any. The whole issue around Shared Prosperity Fund, that is due to replace EU funds, its allocation and access to it remains unclear which is unacceptable. The fact that there is still no date for any consultation never a mind roll out has massive implications.

Read more in our campaign toolkit what your organisation can do to engage with the Shared Prosperity Fund available here. 

Sheffield Roundtable

Have you got your tickets for our free Brexit and civil society roundtable in Sheffield yet? 

This roundtable is on Tuesday 25th June, 13:30 to 16:30 at the Workstation, 15 Paternoster Row, S1 2BX

It is evident that Brexit will have significant impacts on civil society from questions around the replacement of EU funding that the third sector receives, to the maintenance of fundamental rights, to key legislative changes that will arise as a result of EU withdrawal. 

Joining us in Sheffield are:

  • Shahida Siddique (FaithStar) who will speak on the impact of Brexit on cohesion and Sheffield’s civil society

  • John Tizard (NAVCA) who will speak on the wider impact of Brexit on civil society

  • Lauren Payne (Equality and Human Rights Commission) who will speak about the future of funding for civil society and EHRC’s recent report on the future of funding (which you can find here)

Space is limited. Get your place at the table here

Equally Ours - Our Equality and Human Rights Framework: Learning Programme

Date: 19th June 2019
Time: 11:00 to 16:30
Location: Tavus House, 1 - 6 Tavistock Square, Bloomsbury, London, WC1H 9NA
Cost: Free

We’re running our well-received workshop about the Equality and human rights framework for the voluntary and community sector (VCS).

The free digital framework was created for and by the VCS. It can support your organisation to use equality and human rights to:

  • Reach and engage service users

  • Improve services and outcomes

  • Increase fundability

  • Become more inclusive

Our workshop will introduce you to the framework, provide interactive opportunities to explore how to use it and share experiences with other VCS groups.

The workshop is open to people working or volunteering in VCS organisations in the South West, East of England and London.

Register for tickets here

Recommended Reading

  • ‘Waiting for who? House of Commons business before the summer recess’, latest blog by Hansard Society read here 

  • The Exiting the European Union Select Committee heard witnesses on Wednesday. Witnesses were from the farming, food and drink, and motor manufacturing industries. Watch here.

  • House of Commons library have published a briefing on Prorogation of Parliament. Download that here 

  • New academic research on the role of local economies in perceived community representation by Lawrence McKay has been published. Download for free here