The UK General Election 2024: immediate implications for business

Following the announcement of the UK General Election, now is the time for businesses to prepare their strategies for engagement with the future government. That means understanding the likely policy positions, considering the impact and unintended consequences of current and manifesto proposals (when available), and formulating advocacy and strategies for engagement. The sooner businesses start that preparation, the stronger their position to make the most of the opportunities during this important period in UK politics.

On 22 May 2024, the Prime Minister called a General Election for 4 July 2024. This sets in motion a chain of events that change both the ability and the need for businesses to interact with the Government and Opposition parties.


Almost straight away, Parliament enters a process called “wash-up”.  This is when the Government and the Opposition agree on which of the Bills currently before Parliament make it onto the statute book.  Of the 216 Bills that had been at some stage on their journey through Parliament, 16 were chosen to enter wash-up.  Of those, six Bills (the Media Bill; the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill; the Finance (No. 2) Bill; the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill; the Post Office Horizon System Offences Bill, and the Victims and Prisoners Bill) look likely to pass into law.

That is not to say, of course, that the position is done and dusted.  With the recent trend towards allowing for the detail of new legislation to be determined in subsequent regulations, much of the real impact of recent legislation is yet to be worked out.  Furthermore, many of the Bills that have fallen had strong support from Labour, and so may well make a reappearance – perhaps in slightly altered form – during the next Parliament.

Pre-election period

The next event is the start of the “pre-election period”, which was historically referred to as “purdah”. The date on which the pre-election period starts is not set out in law: on this occasion, the Government decided that it should start at 00:01 on Saturday 25 May 2024.

During this period, the Government retains its responsibility to govern, Ministers remain in charge of their departments, and essential business is allowed to continue: indeed, caselaw has confirmed that the pre-election period should not be used to over-ride the Government’s legal obligations.

However, convention also imposes certain restrictions on what ministers, civil servants and local authorities can do during the pre-election period.  These range from an expectation that officials will not attend events where they may be asked questions about future government policy to a freeze on new senior public appointments.  The basic principle behind the restrictions is that departments and civil servants should not do anything that could be seen as capable of influencing the outcome of the election, and that special care should be taken over the use of official resources.

Of particular importance to many businesses will be the restrictions in relation to large and/or contentious contracts. Cabinet Office Guidance for Civil Servants, which is published in advance of every election, addresses this as follows:

Decisions on matters of policy, and other issues such as large and/or contentious commercial contracts, on which a new government might be expected to want the opportunity to take a different view from the present government, should be postponed until after the election, provided that such postponement would not be detrimental to the national interest or wasteful of public money.

Where Ministers are unsure whether a planned decision or activity is covered by the pre-election period restrictions, they may wish to consult the Cabinet Office Propriety and Ethics Team, who handle general queries relating to conduct during the election period.

Businesses that have been engaging or negotiating with Government need to be aware of, and sensitive to, the restrictions that will soon come into play.  It may be useful to consider the extent to which proposed agreements or decisions constitute the normal business of government, as opposed to being newsworthy items that could be said to risk influencing an election.

At the same time, it is important to be pragmatic: not all government business will be able to continue during the campaign, which will leave some decisions to made by the next government. 

Post election: a new government

Following the formation of a new government after the election, there will an intense period of implementation of manifesto promises. Businesses that start, now, to prepare their strategies for engagement with the new administration will have a significant advantage in being ready to help to shape and strengthen the final form of new policy and law. This involves:

  1. working now to understand the likely policy positions of a future government, including as reflected in the manifestos when they become available;

  2. understanding the impact that those policy positions will have on your business, as well as identifying unintended consequences for matters that are of interest to government;

  3. knowing how to shape and/or mitigate those positions through legal and policy means; and

  4. being able to navigate the intense post-election period, and to advocate for credible solutions under time pressure. 

Our strategic intelligence reports help our clients to identify opportunities and challenges resulting from future policy shifts and the outcomes of General Elections. They are centred on the political and  legal pathways relevant to achieving business objectives. They, and we, help businesses to develop proposals and advocacy strategies to support their government engagement. 

For more information about how to ensure that your business is in the best possible position to thrive under a new government, please get in touch with the Hogan Lovells Public Law & Policy team.



Authored by Julia Marlow.

Julia Marlow
Charles Brasted
Robert Gardener
Director of Government Affairs
Andrew Eaton


This website is operated by Hogan Lovells International LLP, whose registered office is at Atlantic House, Holborn Viaduct, London, EC1A 2FG. For further details of Hogan Lovells International LLP and the international legal practice that comprises Hogan Lovells International LLP, Hogan Lovells US LLP and their affiliated businesses ("Hogan Lovells"), please see our Legal Notices page. © 2024 Hogan Lovells.

Attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.