Utility Week

Utility Week 22nd September 2017

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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8 | 22ND - 28TH SEPTEMBER 2017 | UTILITY WEEK Policy & Regulation Lobby Policy / Budget / Brexit Policy & Regulation Conference season The big political parties are lining up for their conferences again this year, but the world is a very different place to 2016. By David Blackman. T his week has seen the beginning of the party conference season with the Liberal Democrats annual gathering in Bournemouth. However, business has shown little inter- est in the Lib Dem deliberations, who even aer an improved showing at June's general election still only have 12 MPs. The big focus for utilities will be on Labour and the Conservatives, who between them captured 83 per cent of the vote in June, the biggest share won by the two big- gest parties in a general election in nearly half a century. And activists will assemble in dramati- cally different moods than they did this time last year when Theresa May was riding high following her effective coronation as prime minister. Tories were brimming with confidence, while the mood at the Labour conference was borderline suicidal with the party still consumed by internal wrangling over Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. The positions are reversed this year. Corbyn is entrenched in the leadership of his party following Labour's better than expected performance in June, while it is May who is watching her back for challengers. May's lack of authority was underlined last week when the Conservatives' allies in the Democratic Unionist Party sided with the opposition in a parliamentary vote on public sector pay. The government's lack of parliamentary arithmetic makes it hard to push through controversial legislation. In addition the sheer volume of Brexit-related legislation means that there is limited time available for other measures. Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, says feedback from MPs suggests it is difficult to predict what will be happening in parliament over the next couple of months. "The prime minister- ship is very fragile," he says. There's little doubt which issue will be most on Tory activists' minds when they assemble in Manchester next week. "The Tory party will be dominated by Brexit, I'm afraid," says Tim Yeo, the Conservative for- mer chairman of the energy and climate change select committee. While Brexit may be crowding out other topics, the industry will be looking for Labour and the Tories to fill in some of the blanks in both parties' energy policies. Top of the list will be insights into the contents of the clean growth strategy, which climate change minister Claire Perry had promised to publish in September but had yet to appear when Utility Week went to press. Even before last week's dramatic capac- Liberal Democrat conference 16-19 September 2017 Bournemouth Labour conference 24-27 September 2017 Brighton Conservative conference 1-4 October 2017 Manchester SNP conference 8-10 October 2017 Aberdeen

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