Proroguing Parliament: what next for the country and for games businesses?

Tim Scott, Ukie's Head of Policy and Public Affairs, unpicks the Prime Minister's decision to prorogue Parliament (and what that means for UK video games businesses)

What a time to be alive. If you’ve been following the news this week, you will no doubt be wondering just exactly what is going on in Westminster.

On the one hand, the decision to prorogue parliament has been described by various politicians and observers as a ‘constitutional outrage’,  ‘a smash and grab on our democracy’ and a "dangerous and unacceptable course of action".

On the other this is apparently just ‘completely proper constitutional procedure,” with Number 10 effectively telling us all to ‘move along please; nothing to see here’.

So are we in the middle of a constitutional crisis? To a large extent, all that happened today is well within the norms of Parliamentary procedure.

There is usually a period before the Queen’s speech where the house doesn’t sit in fact, it is considered established procedure to prorogue Parliament before a Queen's Speech. 

What makes this different is the length and timing of the prorogation. It comes at a time when MPs have clearly stated they want to be able to debate, with many seeking to block a no-deal Brexit via legitimate parliamentary process. 

The move today is in line with the Prime Minister's ambition to take us out of Europe by the 31st October.  It severely limits Parliament’s time to block anything they don’t like or come up with alternatives. Parliament will in any event try to introduce legislation next week to block today’s moves, but they will do so with little time on the clock.

So, what next? Well, there are a few strongly likely possibilities in terms of how this will play out. But each has a number of branching outcomes that makes it hard to predict.

We might see a deal agreed with the EU by the 31st that everyone is happy with. But the EU have been pretty clear to date though that Theresa May’s deal already rejected by Parliament is the best we are going to get, suggesting there isn't much room for change on that front.

This leaves us with option two, crashing out of Europe on the 31st Oct without a deal. And whilst there is significant opposition to this happening from across the political spectrum, the only opinion that matters when push comes to shove is that of the Prime Minister. This means that is, as it currently stands, the most likely outcome.

Unless the leadership changes, which brings us to the final option: is a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister. This move, if made, is highly likely to force a general election. This could result in a different person in charge and, as a result, a different Brexit outcome.

However, should this happen there is much debate on when the election would be called and whether Brexit can legitimately take place during purdah (the period of time prior to any local or national election during which the party in power is traditionally not allowed to take fundamentally binding policy decisions).

It is, all things considered, quite uncertain what would happen if an election were called and it wouldn't necessarily result in no deal heading off the table.

So what should games businesses do in the midst of this? The political situation is undoubtedly volatile. We remain committed to doing what we can to avoid a damaging no deal outcome that would be a wholly undesirable outcome for the thriving UK video games industry. We will also continue to keep an eye on developments and do what we can to keep you up to date with how the political landscape is changing.

In the meantime though, the best practical advice we can offer whilst all this pans out is to take a look at our Brexit no deal survival guide and plan in advance for a no deal outcome.

It is undesirable to have to plan for the worst. But if you do so, you will give your business the best foundation upon which to build in these tumultuous times.

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