Posted by

Tom Nolan, Policy Manager for Energy & Infrastructure

11 Aug 2014

Early August tends to be a quiet time around Westminster and is usually the start of a period when a number of trivial stories fill the front pages. However, this year appears to be an exception as there have been a number of developments that are of genuine interest - although the media's preference for reporting politics over policy was evidenced by the amount of coverage given to Boris Johnson's announcement that he will run for Parliament in 2015.

The Chancellor used his time as the most senior minister in the country to meet with the leaders of five northern cities and promised to support their calls for a multi-billion pound investment over five years in science, transport and infrastructure across the north of England. He also confirmed plans to legislate to improve SME access to finance and he launched a consultation on digital infrastructure. The consultation addresses many important issues; amongst them is which countries and what metrics should the UK benchmark against on communications infrastructure. While the government continues to talk up its current broadband target, the consensus outside of government circles is that it’s nowhere near ambitious enough.

The aforementioned Mayor of London weighed into the debate on the UK's future relationship with the EU when he published a report on how London’s economy would be affected by the UK’s ongoing relationship with Europe in 20 years time. The report was more balanced that some newspaper headlines suggested, and concluded that being inside a reformed EU is the best outcome for economic growth.

The other big constitutional issue making news last week was of course the debate between Alex Salmond and Alastair Darling on Scottish independence. Television debates rarely influence the outcome of votes and it is too early to say if this debate will have any impact. Another debate is scheduled for later this month.