UK Politics – 2024 Look Ahead

by Elizabeth Tomlin

11 January 2024

There are several knowns and unknowns in politics this year, and Cicero’s 2024 Look Ahead document will help you navigate what to expect in an election year in the UK. This short introduction gives you a snapshot of the sector-specific deep dives the full document makes into Financial Services, Tech, Health and Energy/Net Zero, and the international outlook.

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What do we know?

We know the 2024 General Election campaign will begin this year at the very least. In his New Year address on 4 January, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said it’s his “working assumption” that the General Election will take place in the second half of 2024. So, there will be no avoiding the ‘E’ word in 2024.

Regardless of when the General Election takes place, local elections will be on 2 May. This includes Metro Mayoral elections and London Mayoral elections, alongside elections in 36 Metropolitan boroughs, 62 Unitary Authorities, 164 District Councils and the London Assembly. There’s that ‘E’ word again.

We know Parliament’s make-up will change dramatically whoever gets the keys to Number 10. 83 MPs have so far announced they will not stand again at the next General Election – 52 from the Conservatives, 14 from Labour, 9 from the SNP, and 8 others. This is lower than the number of MPs that stood down ahead of the 2015 General Election (90) but is likely to increase as we approach election day.

We know elections taking place across the world this year will have a profound effect on global politics. Over 40 countries will head to the polls in 2024 – including the US, Russia, Ukraine, and India – meaning 1.5 billion people will vote.

What’s still unknown?

The General Election could be held anytime until 28 January 2025, so the 2024 political calendar could be disrupted or remain business as usual. You’ll be pleased to hear the possibility of Party Conferences in September/October and another Autumn Statement remain on the cards.

The Government’s ability to control the legislative agenda remains in the balance. Following the introduction of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill in December 2023, Sunak avoided a major rebellion at Second Reading but will face tougher tests as the Bill progresses in 2024. Its controversial nature means the legislation could change the course of the General Election or further weaken Rishi’s premiership.

And finally, the polls still have time to go either way. Will Labour Leader Keir Starmer be able to keep his poll lead throughout the election campaign to secure an outright majority? Or will the polls narrow if Sunak can put more pennies in voters’ pockets, see flights take off for Rwanda, and cut NHS waiting lists?

These are all matters that businesses and public affairs professionals will need to be prepared to navigate in 2024. Cicero’s fantastic team of consultants will be on hand to do just that. We’ll shortly be launching our General Election website as part of this.

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