We are in uncharted territory

With a new Conservative Party leader to be elected by October and possibly a new Labour leader too, there’s a chance that a snap general election might be called. If so, the Bus Services Bill will fall. But, warns our man in Westminster, that would be bad news if Labour wins

No words can describe the enormity of the British electorate’s decision to leave the EU. It’s truly a seismic decision. We really are in unchartered territory.

Nobody can predict the outcome from the Brexit negotiations.

Not only will we have a new Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister by the time of the Conservative Party conference in early October, it now looks as if we will have a new leader of the Labour Party too.

And don’t rule out the new Prime Minister calling a snap general election to seek a fresh mandate from the electorate.

Mind you, that could be high risk.

If Jeremy Corbyn is ousted and Labour comes to its senses and elects a moderate leader in his place – somebody like Dan Jarvis, for example – I wouldn’t rule out Labour winning a snap election.

What does this mean for the bus and coach sectors? If there is a snap general election then the Bus Services Bill will fall

So if I was the new Conservative Prime Minister, I might just sit tight. It’s extraordinary to think that just over a year ago, David Cameron was lauded over by his party for pulling off a stunning election victory against the odds. Now he’s been forced to resign and will go down in history for leading the UK out of the EU.

This was a referendum he did not want, but was forced into by the resurgence of UKIP and the growing discontent within his own party on the EU issue.

A referendum to quell the internal problems of the Conservative Party has led not only to the UK leaving the EU, but it may now bring forward Scottish independence and even one for the reunification of Ireland.

That’s some legacy Mr Cameron.

But don’t just lay all of this at his door. The result was actually down to large numbers of Labour voters voting for exit, despite the Party’s position being to stay in.

It was as much down to Jeremy Corbyn’s woeful referendum campaign as it was to a Conservative civil war on Europe.

What does this mean for the bus and coach sectors?

If there is a snap general election then the Bus Services Bill will fall.

I suppose there’s an outside chance that a Buses Bill won’t be a priority for a new administration, Conservative or Labour, but don’t bank on it.

A Bill is necessary to put effect to the bus franchising provisions of the various devolution deals so I would be surprised if a Conservative administration didn’t reintroduce the Bus Services Bill pretty much as it is today. But a new Labour administration?

Well, I’d hazard a guess that we may see a wider Transport Bill, both to provide stronger regulatory powers over buses and to play around with aspects of rail policy too.

The best outcome for the bus industry is no snap election, or at least an election that is delayed until the middle of next year, so the current Bill can get Royal Assent.

As for the coach industry, I think the main issue is whether the plethora of EU rules and regulations that relate to the coach industry will be dis-applied as part of the exit negotiations, which seems logical, but for the UK government then to re-apply them under UK law.

I think this is more than likely, so that, effectively the status quo will prevail. But I’m getting ahead of myself on this issue as we have a long way to go before the detailed negotiations get underway.

Finally, I guess you may be hoping I’m going to stick my neck out and predict who will be the next leader of the Conservative Party.

The party membership gets to vote on the final two candidates standing, after the parliamentary party has knocked out other candidates in a ballot. Despite Boris Johnson’s obvious popularity among the party membership he’s a touch toxic, so my money’s on Theresa May.