What does the General Election mean for BIA members?
“You’re joking!” as Brenda from Bristol might say. “Not ANOTHER one!” But here we are, only nine years since the Fixed Term Parliaments Act (FTPA) supposedly kept General Elections five years apart, heading to the polls for the third time in four years.
What does the pre-Christmas poll mean for BIA members? One immediate consequence is a further extension of the Article 50 process, with the Brexit deadline having moved from 31 October to 31 January. Michael has blogged about this here in more detail. Select Committee inquires (including one to which we were to have given evidence) join the Spending Review and the Budget as casualties of 2019’s turbulent political times in falling by the wayside. Civil servants will be restricted by purdah rules as to what they can do (but we will continue to work with officials on those bits of government business that do not fall foul of these rules).
The BIA works all year round to build relationships with parliamentarians – through our annual Parliament Day, our presence at party conferences, support for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Life Sciences, one-to-one meetings in Westminster, briefings for speakers in parliamentary debates and by giving written and oral evidence to Select Committee and other parliamentary inquiries. We also run a Government Affairs Network for members who lead on parliamentary and government relations, which meets three times a year and informs our thinking on how to lobby most effectively on behalf of our industry.
Despite the strictures of the FTPA, nobody was much surprised by the early General Election and we have been preparing for the event for some months. Working with MPs, Peers and the political parties which they represent in parliament, we have addressed the various policy issues which affect our members most significantly and suggested ways in which the parties could, if they were to form the next Government, help promote the success of the UK’s biotech industry for the benefit of patients and the economy. With the NHS emerging as one of the key battleground issues in this contest (that was supposed to be about settling Brexit), we will monitor the debate closely.
The BIA will publish its own Biotech Manifesto on November 11, setting out our key policy priorities for an incoming government to support the biotech sector. We will be conducting an analysis of the parties’ own manifestos to identify for members where each party stands on key issues.
We have developed a map of the UK’s 650 parliamentary seats which details the presence of our industry in each constituency. This seat-by-seat analysis will be a useful tool for our post-election engagement with new MPs and Ministers. It can also help inform members about the strength of biotech in the local area if you are planning to approach candidates before or after the vote. If you would like to have the stats for your constituency, contact MTurner@bioindustry.org.
The deadline to register to vote in this General Election is midnight on 26 November. If you are a UK citizen (or an Irish, EU or Commonwealth citizen with a permanent UK address) aged 18 or over, you can register online here. You can find you parliamentary constituency by entering your postcode here.
Nicky joined the BIA in December 2018 as Interim Director of External Affairs, providing maternity leave cover for Pamela Learmonth. She is responsible for leading and coordinating the BIA’s work across the full range of policy, public affairs and communications activity.
She has extensive experience of delivering external affairs strategies for national organisations, including more than a decade of leading on policy and public affairs for businesses and membership bodies in the financial and professional services sector.