Peter Hannibal, chief executive of the Gambling Business Group believes that Monday’s Conservative Party leadership election vote may have important implications for the gambling industry. In a communication to GBG members who account for 60 percent of UK Adult Gaming Centres and over 75 percent of sited Category C and Category B gaming equipment, Hannibal confirmed: “Following analysis of the election which the Prime Minister won by 211 to 148 votes the insight from GBG’s Public Affairs consultants is that the uncertainty within the Government makes the publishing of anything controversial, including certain elements of the upcoming Gambling White Paper, less likely.”
He continued: “After the 2018 vote of no-confidence which Theresa May won with 63 percent of the vote she was able to push through her anti-obesity strategy – however, this had cross-Government support including from both the department and Number 10. The Gambling White Paper has not yet been through a cross-Whitehall write-round process and we understand there are differences in opinion between the DCMS and parts of Number 10 and Number 11. Given that, and compounded by the vote, it seems likely that proposals will either be watered down or delayed or potentially both.”
“While Number 10 has been clear that the PM has no intention of resigning, those Conservative MPs who are against him were able to breach the 100-vote benchmark – by quite some distance – which was widely seen to be the critical point for the PM to maintain his political authority. With what will be an even more unstable Government from hereon in, the view is that policies without clear backbench or public appeal may be dropped, with a weaker Number 10 more vulnerable to organised backbench pressure on contentious issues.”
The GBG political advisers believe that a Cabinet reshuffle – previously thought to have been pencilled in for pre-conference – is now imminent and will be aimed at reasserting the authority of the Prime Minister and rewarding those MPs who supported him. While there are reports it could occur within the next week, it is probably more likely to take place after the results of the two by-elections in Tiverton and Honiton and Wakefield on 23 June. Under the current rules of the 1922 Committee the Prime Minister is technically secure in his position until mid-2023, when, in the aftermath of next year’s local election results, Conservative MPs will have a final opportunity to decide to remove him ahead of a General Election in 2024.