In the media this week:

Director Will Tanner wrote for the ipaper discussing strategies for the Prime Minister to regain control of the Conservative Party. He was also quoted in The Guardian ahead of the vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister.

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s speech at our Chairman’s Dinner last night was covered in Politico’s London Playbook.

Our Restitch Summit continues to receive coverage, as Power to Change reflects on the key takeaways from the two-day summit.

The outcomes of our Course Correction report were cited in a broader article on FE News on why strengthening the offering of Level 2 Apprenticeships is mutually beneficial for the UK job market.

Upcoming event
EVENT GRAPHICS 20 10 21 - Onward Newsletter, 08/06/22

The UK faces growing security challenges and, while it has taken some defensive steps to preserve key technologies and assets, it does not yet have an offensive plan to develop, grow and scale the technologies that are likely to underpin future scientific progress and create economic value.

Join us this Thursday at 11.30 to discuss whether the UK can stay scientifically competitive in an increasingly multi-polar world. You can sign up for the event here.

New Podcast Episode
Buidiling Belonging website 1 - Onward Newsletter, 08/06/22

The latest episode of the Building Belonging podcast is now out. Will Tanner and The Cares Family’s Alex Smith speak to Ivo Gormley, Founder of Good Gym – a community of people who get fit by doing good – about where the idea came from, their work combating loneliness, and their plans for the future.

Subscribe here.

Director’s Note

Even a political escapologist of Boris Johnson’s standing will not wriggle free of this straitjacket. No Conservative Prime Minister has lost a confidence vote. But none has lasted long after one either. Having lost the support proportionally more MPs than Thatcher, Major or May in their own confidence votes it is impossible to envisage Johnson leading the party into the election.

Will Tanner

Things will get worse before they get better. This is inevitable when whips use every trick to ensure victory and ministers take to Twitter to denounce colleagues.

It is also impossible to “draw a line” under Partygate for as long as the Privileges Committee investigates whether Johnson misled the House. While they do this the issue will keep flaring up. And the argument that Johnson is the only leader capable of holding together the Tories’ 2019 coalition will be unsustainable if, as expected, the Tories lose the upcoming by-elections.

But Johnson has no plans to step down and none of his rivals are likely to force the issue with their own resignation. This risks stasis. How does the Prime Minister slow the inevitable erosion to his own authority? And how does the Conservative Party avoid the civil war?

First, the Prime Minister should reshuffle the Cabinet, not to reward loyalty or stamp authority as he has done in the past but to forge party unity. It would be a sign of strength for Johnson to invite leading figures from across the Party to join his team.

Second, the Government needs to focus on the issues that voters care about, not the hobby horses of Conservative MPs or the right-leaning press. The Conservative coalition assembled at the 2019 election was united by a coherent set of priorities. They valued decency, fairness, aspiration and belonging. They wanted ministers to get Brexit done, invest in public services, curb immigration, cut crime and bring good jobs and pride back to their place. And they still do. Privatising Channel 4 and reintroducing imperial weights and measures are distractions, not attractions, for the Conservative brand.

Finally, following the Jubilee celebrations, ministers should reflect on the public’s reverence for institutions. It was instructive that those booing Johnson were not a left-wing rabble but a crowd of royalists. Too often, this Government gives the impression that it is carefree with constitutional conventions that conservatives should value.

It is in moments like this when political parties either earn their mandate to govern, or retreat and end up in opposition. This should be the shot across the boughs that the Government needs, and the beginning of renewal.

A longer version of this note first appeared in the ipaper.

Will Tanner,

Director of Onward

Policy Bites

The Department for Transport has announced £160 million investment in infrastructure, housing, and employment in Newcastle, Greater Manchester, Cornwall, and Southampton, expected to generate £659.3 million in economic benefits for the regions. Link

The Education Skills and Funding Agency has reset the reservation level on apprenticeship starts for SMEs, allowing them to hire up to 10 new apprentices regardless of the number of apprentices currently under their employment. This gives SMEs greater power in promoting apprenticeships, especially for younger people and those from disadvantaged areas. Link

The Government has published its response to the consultation on local audit frameworks, which includes a proposal to create a new regulator, the ‘Audit Reporting and Governance Authority,’ and another to make audit committees mandatory for all local councils. These proposals are expected to ensure that local bodies deliver value for money, strengthen local finance and reduce risk to public funds. Link

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