This morning saw Theresa May launch the much anticipated Conservative Manifesto ‘Forward, Together’.
The manifesto sets out ‘five giant challenges’ that the country faces – all of which are relevant to our sectors and three in particular: the need for a strong economy, responding to Brexit and a changing world, and facing up to fast-changing technology.
Some of the key areas in the manifesto for our sectors:
- A modern industrial strategy that builds on world-leading sectors, such as aerospace, and supports them to grow further.
- Continuing with the government’s approach to Brexit, as set out in the PM’s Lancaster House Speech, White Papers and Article 50 letter – seeking a “smooth, orderly Brexit” but continue to believe that no deal is better than a bad deal.
- Reconfirms SDSR 2015 commitments to £178bn equipment plan, meeting 2% NATO target and increasing MOD budget spending by at least 0.5% more than inflation every year.
- A new national infrastructure police force and investment in cyber security and stronger cyber standards for government and public services.
- Reforms to corporate governance, with new rules for takeovers, executive pay and worker representation on company boards.
Continuing their stance in government the Conservatives are continuing their support for a modern industrial strategy – identifying industries that are of strategic value to the economy such as Aerospace.
- R&D: increase spending on R&D to turn discoveries into practical products – meet the current OECD average for investment in R&D – 2.4% of GDP – within ten years, with a longer-term goal of 3%.
- Small business: remove barriers that hold back small firms – let them compete when government itself is the buyer.
- Productivity: industrial strategy must address UK’s slow productivity growth – schemes in place such as national productivity investment fund (announced at Autumn Statement 2016).
- Place: make LEPs and combined authorities responsible for co-ordinating their own local industrial strategy in alignment with national industrial strategy.
- Skills: work with Migration Advisory Committee to align visa system with industrial strategy to set aside significant number of visas doe works in strategically-important sectors.
- Advanced manufacturing: UK world leaders in advanced manufacturing such as aero and automotive engineering – will continue to support these key industries so that they can grow further.
- Shipbuilding: take forward Sir John Parker’s review of shipbuilding to help our shipyards modernise and collaborate. Want to see shipbuilding growing on the Clyde and on the Forth, in Belfast and in Barrow, and in the north-east and south of England.
Business and the Economy
- Create a network of HM’s Trade Commissioners to head nine new regional overseas posts. These commissioners will lead export promotion, investment and trade policy overseas.
- Double Immigration Skills Charge levied on companies employing migrant workers to £2,000 a year by the end of the parliament – using revenue generated to invest in higher level skills training.
- Across all government departments, ensure that 33% of central government purchasing will come from SMEs by the end of the parliament.
Defence and Security
The Conservative manifesto flagged the importance of security for the UK:
- Reconfirmed SDSR 2015 commitment to invest £178 billion in new military equipment over the next decade.
- Continue to meet the NATO commitment to spend at least 2% of GDP on defence and increase the defence budget by at least 0.5% above inflation in every year of the new parliament.
- Create a national infrastructure police force, bringing together the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, the Ministry of Defence Police and the British Transport Police to improve the protection of critical infrastructure such as nuclear sites, railways and the strategic road network.
We didn’t see much new on Brexit from today’s manifesto with pointers to the Prime Minister’s Lancaster House speech, Brexit White Paper, Great Repeal Bill White Paper and Article 50 letter.
- Ensure our departure is smooth and orderly and to agree a deep and special partnership with the 27 remaining member states.
- Work together with EU in the fight against crime and terrorism, collaborate in science and innovation – and secure a smooth, orderly Brexit.
- May be specific European programmes in which we might want to participate and, if so, will make a contribution.
- Agree the terms of our future partnership alongside our withdrawal, reaching agreement on both within the two years allowed by Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.
- Expand global efforts to combat extremism, terror, and the perpetration of violence against people because of their faith, gender or sexuality.