Join the PubAffairs Network

Established in January 2002, PubAffairs is the premier network and leading resource for the public affairs, government relations, policy and communications industry.

The PubAffairs network numbers over 4,000 members and is free to join. PubAffairs operates a general e-Newsletter, as well as a number of other specific group e-Newsletters which are also available to join by completing our registration form.

The PubAffairs e-Newsletters are used to keep members informed about upcoming PubAffairs events and networking opportunities, job vacancies, public affairs news, training courses, stakeholder events, publications, discount offers and other pieces of useful information related to the public affairs and communications industry.

Join the Network

As the Chancellor revels in the IMF's upgraded (and rather less dismal) economic forecast for the UK, a sullen Sunak is subject to a fresh swathe of criticism this week in his desperate attempts to placate an increasingly divided Party...

Flying High: Jeremy Hunt

These days, politics tends to consist of bad news and worse news. However, the IMF’s forecasts for UK growth should certainly be considered good news.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has upgraded its forecasts for UK growth, stating the country will no longer fall into recession this year. Putting forward a more upbeat assessment of the UK’s annual growth, the IMF forecast GDP growth of 0.4%.

The Chancellor has revelled in these economic figures, using them to argue that improved economic expectations are down to government action. He said, “today’s IMF report shows a big upgrade to the UK’s growth forecast and credits our action to restore stability and tame inflation”, whilst also stressing the job is not over.

To be fair to the Chancellor, the IMF did praise the government for its new childcare plans and planned capital investment allowance, as well as the new Brexit deal, which it said would ensure a less uncertain landscape.

But Labour frontbencher Pat McFadden pointed out that despite dodging a recession, UK growth is still…quite awful. He said the report included “hallmarks of this Conservative government which indulged in a disastrous budget that sent mortgages rocketing, put the pension system on life support and cast a question mark over Britain as a home for investment”.

Nevertheless, this may be the stamp of approval that the party so desperately needs and could help the Prime Minister and his Chancellor with the internal political management of potentially rebellious Conservative MPs, following the party’s dismal performance at the local elections.

Middle Ranking: Suella Braverman

Poor Suella cannot catch a break as she’s back in the WTWN firing line.

New revelations indicated that the Home Sec opted for three points on her driving licence after attempting to cajole civil servants into arranging a private speed awareness course. Her decision to involve senior civil servants raised questions over whether she had breached the ministerial code by asking them to intervene in her private matters.

Suella did attempt to weather the storm with a letter detailing her version of events. Braverman said she did seek the advice of officials about how best to protect her privacy and security. She apologised for the distraction caused by not being transparent about it in the first place. Sunak decided to accept this, and, in a brief response, believed the matter did not warrant a formal investigation.

Braverman has survived by the skin of her teeth and is safe in her job for now. Cynics might say keeping Braverman helps mollify the Tory right at a tumultuous time and keeps a useful lightning rod on immigration. But many have expressed their disdain. One Government Minister said, “she keeps doing stuff which is just not OK,” while another added: “the PM has been fair to her, but she has made too many poor judgments and has caused a lot of damage.”

There is still a good chance that Braverman will not be Home Secretary by the time of the next general election but the timing of any future resignation will most likely be decided according to Braverman’s leadership ambitions and not Sunak’s ability to govern.

Sinking Low: Rishi Sunak

We have gone from the heights of Dishi Rishi, to a more sullen Sunak, as this week he has found himself in an unenviable position of attempting to weather a Party that is fracturing.

A trove of leaked WhatsApp messages between MPs has laid bare the scale of the turmoil engulfing the Conservative Party. Panicking Tory MPs have warned the Party that it is on course to turn into a “skip fire” and could even “die” as Sunak finds himself under pressure from both left and right.

It’s all very awkward for Sunak, who famously promised to restore government integrity and professionalism, but has already lost three Cabinet members to scandal. Simon Hoare has encapsulated the mood, comically asking “would the last Tory MP to leave the building please turn off the lights”.

With an upcoming election drawing ever nearer, Conservative focus should really be on the problems ahead rather than re-running the damaging stories of the past. But this week has shown there is no shortage of figures in the Tory party keen to make their voice heard. To move ahead, Sunak really needs to show he can get a grip as the public rarely votes for divided parties.