June 21, 2017 A Queen’s Speech for Brexit
Given that the forthcoming Parliamentary session will usher in one of the most significant governance transformations in modern times, the June 2017 State Opening of Parliament was a strangely subdued affair. Thanks to its proximity to the Queen’s Birthday Parade the decision was taken to curtail some of the ceremony, with the Queen not donning her usual robes of state, and arriving by car rather than in a horse-drawn carriage.
With Brexit likely to dominate Parliamentary business for the next two years, the Queen’s Speech was very heavily slanted towards the implications of leaving the EU. Eight of the twenty-seven bills announced directly related to Brexit, whilst some of the more controversial proposals from the Conservative party manifesto have seemingly been either dropped or merely set down for consultation.
Looking specifically at the implications of Queen’s speech for business, key to surety moving forward is the Repeal Bill which, by translating current EU legislation into UK law, aims to “provide as much legal certainty as possible for businesses and individuals.” Set alongside other legislation including a trade bill and a customs bill, the government’s stated aim is to help British business to thrive across the world.
Moving on to other bills which may have direct implications for business, excluding those which relate specifically to areas such as transport or energy, the government aims to take forward measures which will enhance rights and protections in the workplace, protect personal data, and “make the UK the best place in the world for digital business.” The gender pay gap and discrimination also come in for mention, with various measures being taken forward either through regulation or review. Interestingly, the briefing note which accompanied the Queen’s Speech highlights a McKinsey report which estimated that increasing gender equality in the workplace could add £150billion to the UK economy by 2025.
One of the areas which Theresa May has been very vocal about since she became Prime Minister is that of corporate governance reform. There was no mention of this in the Queen’s Speech or in the accompanying Parliamentary briefing. However, there has been much discussion and debate since the 2016 green paper and with research and consultation ongoing we would expect to see further announcements relating to governance reform in due course.