Conservative conference had a calm and considered atmosphere, less jingoistic and more a focus on grappling pragmatically with key issues over the economy, inflation, and the coming election in 2024. Rishi Sunak was ubiquitous, energetic, and high profile, as were key members of the cabinet- Cleverly, Hunt and Grant Shapps especially, with hope that they can see a way to get re-elected and Isaac Levido, Number 10 special advisor, took us through the polling and statistics that show a way forward to re-election in 2024.
The fringes were where most action took place, with a huge array of topics and debates, but noticeably this year were many more on AI, technology and its impact on productivity, government, and regulation and a lot of renewable and energy discussion. The carbon capture alliance were high profile under the CCSA banner, as UK expects to capture millions of tons of C02 by 2027, and produce green hydrogen around the coastline.
Ukraine was in strong focus in terms of defence and unstinting support, whereas the USA, EU and Europe enjoyed a relatively low profile. Three significant groups focused on Ukraine:
Conservative friends of Ukraine, who held two events- including a well-attended reception with former Pm Mr Poroshenko in attendance, and high-profile UK politicians including, Grant Shapps (Sec of state for defence) Liz Truss (former Pm and FCDO) Jack Lopresti MP, James Cartlidge MP (Minister of state defence), and a panel discussion on business and government support with Oleksandr Kamyshyn, minister of state for strategic industries, Oliver Waghorn, BAE, John Patton Argentem Creek partners.
Conservative Home hosted a strong panel on ‘rebuilding Ukraine- how can the UK support UKR future recovery and growth’ with minister for economic security Nus Ghani MP, Jim Bowden of Aecom, Alicia Kearns MP and Eduard Fesko, acting UKR Ambassador to UK where a clear exposition of the capabilities of UKR and the opportunities for UK business to support them emerged and the Government is supporting with war insurance support to de-risk for investment. Mr Fesko said that UKR needs companies now to invest in key areas- logistics, construction especially roads, ports and energy in particular, so they can be self-sufficient and support their economy with agricultural and steel exports. Aecom are already in UKR with rebuilding bridges and encouraged other companies to move in now, BAE are establishing munitions factory manufacturing for front line delivery. Nus Ghani mentioned UBBC and our new website access.
Coalition for global prosperity hosted a human rights event with the Attorney general Victoria Prentice MP, entitled ‘Justice for Ukraine’ She outlined the hard work that is going into pursuing Russian war crimes (over 100,000 documented) already some of the perpetrators of Bucha crimes have been prosecuted. Leslie Vasylenko of parliament of UKR, said the UK is leading in the advocacy of Human rights and to hold Russia accountable for its illegal invasion of Ukraine, and many other crimes that will not be overlooked.
Policy exchange held a packed room on subject of ‘defence innovation and the Ukraine war’ with heavyweight speakers including ‘Grant Shapps MP (Sec for Defence) Air Marshall Edward Stringer. Dmitro Natalukha MP UKR, Marie Laine of Boeing. Key points include the changing nature of the war, the importance of scaling up production, innovating to overcome weight of Russian numbers and importance of producing weapons like drones directly in UKR. Who are astonishing in their speed of adaptation.
Recordings available via a WhatsApp on request London@ukrainbritainbusiness.org