Supply Chain Enabled

Potential Policy impacts following UK General Election

Published: July 2, 2024
Author: Siobhan King-Hughes

The UK’s supply chain landscape has experienced significant changes in recent years, largely influenced by Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 1 January 2021, the UK has completed its transition period and is now fully out of the EU. This shift has impacted various supply chain functions, with ongoing efforts to resolve the Northern Ireland situation—a unique challenge post-Brexit.

Political Landscape and Leadership Changes

The UK has been under Conservative rule for the past 14 years, witnessing five different Prime Ministers since the Brexit referendum. David Cameron resigned following the ‘leave’ vote, succeeded by Theresa May, who also resigned after failing to secure support for her Brexit deal. Boris Johnson led the country through the COVID-19 pandemic but resigned amidst controversies, followed by Liz Truss, whose tenure lasted only 49 days due to fallout from her fiscal policies. The current Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, faces various challenges, including controversies and pressures from within his party and the electorate.

Current Policies and Their Implications

The current Conservative government has implemented key policies including Brexit, SPS checks, the Windsor Framework, Net Zero targets, and Extended Producer Responsibilities (EPR). If re-elected, these policies are expected to continue, with specific timelines already in place:

  • Windsor Framework: The current solution is the Windsor Framework, which resulting in NIRMS (the Northern Ireland Retail Movement Scheme) which allows GB producers to ship to NI under a special arrangement: a fast track or ‘Green Lane”. Another effect is the “Not for EU” labelling that needs now to be applied to products in NI that are moved under the scheme. The current plan is to roll out across the UK, so that all qualifying products (including imports from Republic of Ireland) would need to be labelled “Not for EU” when placed on the UK market. This adds a compliance complexity for producers selling on both EU and UK markets as it effectively doubles the SKUs. Implementation is currently planned for October 2024.
  • Health Certificates and SPS Checks: Postponed several times, these requirements will rolled out in stages from 31 January 2024, and 30 April 2024, respectively. These changes add paperwork and costs for importers, with further reclassifications planned for October 2024.

Potential Impact of the Upcoming Election

Polls suggest significant changes in the political landscape, with the Labour Party, led by Sir Keir Starmer, leading by a considerable margin. Labour has indicated support for existing policies on the Windsor Framework, SPS checks, Net Zero, and EPR, while ruling out a referendum to re-join the EU or the single market. This suggests continuity in these areas if Labour wins.

Nigel Farage’s Reform Party has gained notable support and could play a role in the opposition. Reform’s manifesto opposes stringent SPS checks, EPR, and the Windsor Framework, favouring a more distant relationship with Europe.

Implications for the Conservative Party

Facing an anticipated electoral challenge, the Conservative Party may experience a leadership crisis. Political analysts predict a historically poor performance for the Conservatives. If they maintain their position as the main opposition, they may continue to support policies related to the Windsor Framework, SPS checks, Net Zero, and EPR, aligning with previous initiatives.

Business Considerations

Until the election results are finalised and new ministers are appointed, uncertainty will persist regarding key areas like the Windsor Framework, SPS/Health Certificates, and packaging reforms. Businesses exporting to the UK should stay informed about potential regulatory changes and timeline shifts, which could impact compliance costs and operational stability.

Stay updated with the latest developments in UK politics and their potential impact on the supply chain to navigate this evolving landscape effectively.

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To discuss your customs and trade challenges, and to ensure your business stays ahead in this changing landscape, contact us today.

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