FTI Consulting Public Affairs Snapshot – A year in review, the year to come: Analysis and predictions from FTI Consulting’s UK Public Affairs TeamDownload a PDF of this article
As I write this introduction, the seventh time the FTI Consulting UK public affairs team has produced this annual roundup, millions of us are under lockdown in a Christmas unlike one we’ve ever known before – or might wish to know again. Our 2019 review contained, if I may say, some astute political observations and predictions for the year we’ve just endured – but, of course, not one word about the coronavirus that has dominated everything in 2020.
So there are no prizes for guessing what will dominate 2021 – in policies, party politics, economics and the rest. Boris Johnson’s future depends upon perceptions about the handling of this pandemic, as does that of his government.
Brexit and trade: this country has finally left the EU. Liz Truss has resembled the energiser bunny, sprinting around the world signing continuity deals and new deals – but the nature of the post-transition relationship between the U.K. and the E.U. remains unknown at this juncture. As we predicted last year, our diplomatic efforts have been split between a “sunny uplander” team striking new trade deals with the rest of the world, which has gone well, and a rather less upbeat, “sorry to bring it up but this really does still matter” EU-focused team trying for the best possible post-split settlement, which has gone rather less well. The next steps of the continuity remain movement, much in evidence this past year in the House of Lords and in the media, continue to remain unknown: will they coalesce into a Rejoin campaign? With the departure of one of the Union’s most significant economic, military and diplomatic powers, the nature of our departure and how it is managed will continue to dominate our political environment and our relations with our EU neighbours. The EU’s coronavirus bailout package shows both the size and scale of our neighbours’ ambitions, and the difficulties that face them in realising them in financial terms, especially with the second largest net contributor having left.
A year for Scotland: an important election that may materially affect the future of the Union. Sturgeon’s nationalist movement has seen both Brexit and coronavirus stimulate poll leads for independence consistently in 2020 – much will depend on the results in 2021 north of the border which, at the time of writing, is closed to English people for the first time in my life.
We hope that you enjoy our snapshots. Whatever 2021 may hold for you and yours, we hope that you have as restful a break as can be had in these horrible times – and we stand ready to help meet your public affairs needs throughout the year to come.