A few days ago Theresa May marked a year in office. Maybe it feels like longer, with a snap election, surprise result and long-discussed deal with the DUP. But with the contents of the Queen’s Speech passing through parliament – albeit with a slim majority but a welcome pledge to bring forward a new bill for the next phase of HS2 – we’re onto the business of a new government.
As soon as it was published, the ‘Great Repeal Bill’, which aims to create the legal framework for Brexit by repealing the 1973 EU Act and incorporating existing EU laws into the British statute book, met with opposition. Not just from Labour, who felt that it was undemocratic, but also from the Scottish and Welsh parties who joined forces in threatening to block the laws proposed because of their impact on devolution. It looks like a long road ahead.
But with Brexit taking so much government time, the business of running the country right now still needs attention. In Building, Tim Stone, Arup non-executive director (and a former advisor to the Government) warns that the new parliament is in danger of seeing infrastructure and construction overwhelmed by Brexit negotiations and domestic issues, and the Conservatives will struggle to govern effectively with a minority government.
This throws into question major infrastructure and construction projects, such as Crossrail 2, the Heathrow expansion and the Westminster restoration, some of which were barely mentioned – or even omitted – from the Conservative Party’s election manifesto. For housebuilders in particular, questions are being asked about the future of the Housing White Paper, and the previous Government’s commitment to the Private Rented Sector (PRS) and Build-to-Rent (BTR) while the future of building regulations remains under enormous scrutiny.