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This Week in Westminster - Friday 30 April 2021

Kerri Prince, BASW’s Public and Political Affairs Lead, gives an overview of what's been happening in Westminster this week...

If you had been keeping an eye on the news this week, you’ll have seen that the main topics of discussion in the ‘Westminster bubble’ are questions on who originally was going to pay for the refurbishment of the Prime Minister’s Downing Street accommodation, allegations of insensitive language by the Prime Minister in reference to Covid-19 deaths, and the suggestion that Boris Johnson’s phone number was widely circulated in the public domain.

The latter led to hundreds of screenshots on social media of people messaging the number. Whilst the latter does feel like a ‘lighter’ subject compared to what the world has been going through over the last 18 months, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that there are important elections coming up next week. 

It’s been a busy week for Boris Johnson being at the centre of all of the top political stories, but the light at the end of the tunnel for him is that his party is set to do well in next week’s elections. Despite being in power in Westminster for the last 11 years, the public do not appear to be getting sick of the Conservatives just yet. It is a common thing in politics that people get tired and fatigued of the party in Government, and often vote for change. Yet key Mayoral battles in Tees Valley and West Midlands are still set to remain Conservative, despite being viewed as traditional Labour areas. 

BASW England has surveyed candidates from the 4 main parties who are standing to be Mayor for combined authorities in England, as well as the candidates for Liverpool, Greater Manchester, and London. We have started to receive responses to the survey, which are available to read.

There are also elections to the Welsh and Scottish Parliaments next week – and the results will produce a desperate clamouring to own the narrative about what ‘success’ looks like. If the SNP lose seats in Scotland but still win, is that success? If the Conservatives gain seats but lose overall, is that a partial victory? There will be a lot of commentary over the coming weeks about what the results mean for devolution and independence. 

The UK Parliament has now ‘prorogued’ which means that the Parliamentary session has ended, and the Queen will open the new Parliament on 11th May with a speech about the Government’s legislative plans. This is where we will hear whether the Government are bringing a Bill about social care reform – but rumours are that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is trying to kick it into the long grass due to the huge costs that will be associated with it. 

The consultation for the Home Office’s New Plan for Immigration closes on Thursday, and BASW will be submitting a response. 

The Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill is due to have its Committee Stage in May – although no date has yet been confirmed. The committee stage means that MPs can amend every single part of the Bill if they so wished. 

We met with Co-Chairs of the Social Worker APPG David Simmonds MP and Barbara Keeley MP to discuss plans for the APPG over the coming year. Watch this space!

I’ll be back next week to talk about the election results and what this means for politics.