The General Election has been considered by some as the "Brexit election" © Lindsey Parnaby/AFP/Getty Images
The General Election has been considered by some as the "Brexit election" © Lindsey Parnaby/AFP/Getty Images

What the General Election means for buying

29 November 2019

The UK is preparing for its fourth General Election in the space of a decade on 12 December 2019. While it has been considered by some as the “Brexit election”, issues such as green industry and transport are also on the political agenda. SM has looked at the key issues affecting procurement. 

Brexit

The Conservatives plan to “get Brexit done” by 31 January 2020. The party’s manifesto puts forward the Brexit deal prime minister Boris Johnson presented to Parliament in October 2019. Under the deal, the UK would be out of the single market, out of the Customs Union, and would no longer be subject to EU law. It plans to negotiate a trade deal in 2020 but the transition period would only extend until the end of 2020. 

The Brexit Party is calling for a “Clean Break” Brexit, with no extended transition period. 

In comparison, Labour has said it will give the general public the final say on Brexit. The party would seek a “sensible deal” with the EU within three months, and within six months, it would pose a national vote on whether to proceed with the new deal or remain in the EU. 

The Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the SNP have thrown their support behind a “People’s Vote” to give the public the final say on a Brexit deal.

The Liberal Democrats stance is far more simply “stop Brexit” and remain in the EU.

Green industry

Labour plans to create a million new jobs as part of its ‘Green Industrial Revolution’, which aims to tackle the climate emergency by shifting to “renewable energy, investing in rail and electric cars, and making housing energy efficient”. The new jobs would come from the expansion of hydrogen and tidal energy, port infrastructure, tree planting, flood defences and plastics recycling.

The Lib Dems look to reduce emissions from industrial processes by supporting carbon capture and storage and new low-carbon processes for cement and steel production. It also wants to provide more advice to companies on cutting emissions and support the development of zero-carbon innovation.

The Green Party wants to set clean technology standards. It plans to provide companies with grants to allow replacement of old high-emitting carbon machinery with newly-developed low-carbon equipment.

All parties except the Brexit Party and Plaid Cymru have committed to go net-zero on carbon emissions. The Tories pledged to achieve this by 2050, the Lib Dems and SNP by 2045, Labour and the Greens by 2030.

Public procurement

The Tories pledged to support start-ups and small businesses through government procurement. The party also said it will “clamp down on late payment” and strengthen the powers of the small business commissioner to support small firms exploited by larger partners.

Labour plans to use public procurement to strengthen local jobs and supply chains and would require all companies bidding for public contracts to “recognise trade unions, pay suppliers on time and demonstrate equalities best practice”.

The Lib Dems want to expand the market for green products and services with steadily higher green criteria in public procurement policy. 

Plaid Cymru plans to ensure public sector contracts are spent in Wales, to protect local jobs and retain local investment. It also proposed reforms to public procurement regulation to ensure those who work for firms receiving public money pay workers a living wage. 

Transport

Labour plans to nationalise rail services, introduce a long-term investment plan including delivering Crossrail for the North and to complete the full HS2 route to Scotland. The party said it will promote the use of rail freight to reduce carbon emissions, air pollutants and congestion on roads.  

The Tories plan to build Northern Powerhouse rail between Leeds and Manchester and to invest in the Midlands Rail Hub, strengthening rail links, including those between Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham, Coventry, Derby, Hereford and Worcester. However, it did not commit to completing the HS2 project, but said it will consider the findings of Oakervee’s review. 

The Lib Dems proposed opening up the franchise bidding process to public sector companies, local or combined authorities, and not-for-profits, which have the “potential to deliver much better services”. The Brexit Party and Greens plan to scrap HS2. 

Health and social care

Labour and the Green Party both have pledges to roll back the outsourcing of health and social care contracts to private firms. 

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned that neither the Conservatives nor Labour offer "credible" spending plans. 

“Should they win this time, it is highly likely that the Conservatives would end up spending more than their manifesto implies and thus taxing or borrowing more,” the IFS said.

“Labour would not be able to deliver investment spending increases on the scale they promise. The public sector doesn’t have the capacity to ramp up that much, that fast.”

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