Madano Energy’s daily update on energy and infrastructure policy, Brexit-related discussions and other major developments from the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.

Please see below a summary of:

  • Madano overview from start of conference
  • Monday’s key speeches – Philip Hammond, Greg Clark
  • Madano conference diary – Michael Zdanowski, Head of Energy
  • Best tweets so far
  • Major speeches to watch out for today

Madano overview from start of conference

Sizeable protests took place in Manchester on Sunday afternoon, including an anti-Brexit protest and a wider protest against the Conservative administration. The sense on the ground in Manchester is that the UK’s political atmosphere seems more divided and polarised than at any time over the last 25 years.

Virgin Trains made what some might see as a strong pitch for renationalising the railways by cancelling one of the few main London-Manchester services on Sunday morning. This resulted in two train loads of conference attendees – including MPs, Cabinet ministers and others – cramming onto just one train. The two and a half hour journey saw many people standing for the entire trip.

Conference attendees woke up to the news that Monarch, a sizeable UK airline, has gone bust. The timing of this news will be a major topic of conversation particularly given the Government’s focus on protecting British consumers many of whom are now stranded abroad, and has already featured in the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland’s speech.

Monday’s key speeches

Philip Hammond – Chancellor of the Exchequer

  • Mr Hammond pledged an additional £300 million investment “to future-proof the railway network in the north” and help to link up major programmes such as HS2 with future rail projects.
  • The Chancellor also stated that the Government’s “patient capital review” into methods of boosting private investment in “growth businesses” will report in the autumn.
  • Acknowledging that British governments have not always succeeded in infrastructure delivery, he stated that this Government “accepts the challenge of stepping up infrastructure investment” and is committed to building for the future whilst tackling existing debt.
  • He highlighted the extra £23 billion earmarked for “high-return schemes” such as housing, transport and R&D to improve UK productivity, alluding to the Government’s forthcoming Industrial Strategy White Paper.
  • The Government is “committed” to the Northern Powerhouse project, aiming to “join the great cities of the North into a single connected market”, as well as similar efforts to forge a Midlands Engine for Growth.
  • Referring to Labour policies, he criticised the idea of the state controlling industry, highlighting historic trends towards perceived failure and inefficiency in areas such as utilities, transport and energy.
  • Mr Hammond also expressed a desire for continuing a strong economic relationship with the EU without accepting the need for political connections or “ever closer union”.

Madano analysis: The Chancellor made almost no mention of energy policy or climate change in a speech notable for its focus on attacking the opposition Labour Party. Hammond’s speech seems to have been designed to stave off criticism of the Government’s approach to regional investment, emphasising the need to invest in projects such as the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine. This message was echoed by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, also speaking today, who noted that any perceived economic success shepherded in by the Conservatives has not been shared equally amongst all parts of the UK. Street emphasised the need for the Government’s industrial strategy to prioritise regional growth and interconnectivity.

Greg Clark – Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary

  • Mr Clark addressed a number of issues in his speech, including Brexit, the Government’s Industrial Strategy, productivity and employment.
  • He argued that Brexit would be carried out responsibly and was about the UK becoming a more open country and economy.
  • He stated that the UK was the “jobs capital of the world” as the vast majority of working age people were employed, but that the UK had a lot to do to become the “earnings capital of the world”, and that the conservatives would increase the country’s earning power.
  • He also said that the UK would become the “go-to place for new battery technology”, which would be achieved through the Faraday Challenge. He cited examples of battery-powered vehicles, which would be developed in the UK.
  • Mr Clark suggested that the British government is leading the way on the energy transition, pointing to support for new nuclear and the smart meter rollout, as well as the fact that the UK is already a world leader in offshore wind power.
  • He noted that the Taylor Review would explore the changing nature of work in the gig economy, ensuring that it drove economic success while also safeguarding the rights of its workers.
  • He was critical of the Labour Party, which he suggested would raise taxes to “the highest level in the peacetime history of the United Kingdom” and expropriate industries. He was also critical of moderate Labour MPs who were standing by as their party adopted “an extreme and ruinous ideology”.

Madano analysis: Mr Clark’s speech could be perceived as dependable, careful not to touch on any controversies or issues currently surrounding the Conservatives, instead listing the various policies enacted by his department. He focused heavily on the Industrial Strategy and the successes which it has delivered to date, such as the lowest ever price offshore, wind power. His criticism of the Labour Party was broad ranging rather than focused on individual policies, and he presented the Conservatives as the sensible opposite to Labour. 

Madano conference diaryMichael Zdanowski, Head of Energy

Best tweets so far

Jillian Ambrose, Telegraph Energy Reporter (@JH_Ambrose)

Northern Power House: Claire Perry MP says it’s no longer about looking at energy, industry, transport – but an integrated whole #CPC17

Bright Blue (@WeAreBrightBlue)

“Climate change is no.1 priority for 18-24 yr olds…this is a big opportunity for the Conservatives” @LauraRound #brightblue #CPC17

Greenpeace UK Chief Scientist and Policy Director (@Doug_Parr)

Clare Perry, climate minister says she will be ‘saying a lot more about Carbon Capture & Storage in a few weeks’ #CPC17

Bloomberg Business Journalist (@Jess_Shankleman)

If wind was a liquid we’d be jumping up and down with joy with it, says @RenewableUK’s Hugh McNeal at #CPC17

Daily Mirror Political Reporter (@DanBloom1)

Chaos at #CPC17 fringe. Boris Johnson bundled up the room surrounded by aides/ bodyguards when asked if he’s making things difficult for May

Victoria MacGregor, Director of Energy at Citizens Advice (@VicMacG123)

Calling for urgent action on price protection for vulnerable at #energy event with @GregClarkMP engagingly chaired by @steve_hawkes #CPC17

Sam Hall, Senior Research Fellow at Bright Blue (@samuelhall0)

At @WeAreBrightBlue, Claire Perry advocates a place-based local approach to meeting our energy needs #CPC17 #BrightBlue

Major speeches to watch out for today

12:30 (approx.) – Speech by Home Secretary Amber Rudd

14:00 (approx.) – Speech by Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis

14:30 (approx.) – Speech by Secretary of State for International Trade Dr Liam Fox

15:30 (approx.) – Speech by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson 

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