The UK will take to the polls again next week, this time for more unexpected reasons, as we vote on our next assembly of MEPs. An academic result or not, the government has made it clear they will be expected to take their seats this summer - interpret that how you will! From the unexpected to the worst kept secret in politics and Boris Johnson’s admission that he will be running for Conservative Party Leadership. The rumour mill is already beginning to turn on the other riders and runners in the race to be PM and we’re all just hoping for a quick and clean fight. The events this week have been as follows:

On Tuesday, BEI hosted a meeting on Migration and Modern Slavery with DFID’s Deputy Director and Head of the Migration and Modern Slavery Department, Paul Whittingham providing useful insights on the work of this relatively new focus area. The term “modern slavery” needs to be used sensitively and takes many forms, and drivers include; poverty, criminality/recruitment channels and value distribution in supply chains. It is thought there are over 40 million people living in slavery globally, with numbers in UK pegged at more than 10,000.


On Wednesday lunchtime Gareth Rhys Williams, the government’s Chief Commercial Officer, took us through the government’s plans to make its commercial function the UK’s best. Gareth has overseen major improvements to the capability of government procurement staff by hiring 500 new senior Civil Servants, as well as introducing a new set of cross-cutting behaviours and practices designed to standardise the government’s approach across all its departments. The Government Commercial Function is in the process of training 50,000 Civil Servants in contract management to further develop capability, and in February it released the ‘Outsourcing Playbook’, a set of 11 new policies that represent a near-complete redesign of the outsourcing process.

Later that afternoon, BEI hosted an ICAI review presentation on CDC’s investments in low-income and fragile states. It was felt that whilst CDC has made progress in redirecting investments to low-income and fragile states, the building of in-country capacity to support a more developmental approach has been slow. In addition, more needed to be done to monitor development results, or to progress plans to improve evaluation and apply learning. CDC’s Chairman was available to respond to the report findings and highlight how some of the key findings were already being attended to.


On Thursday, The D Group hosted a lunch with Sarah Keeble, Partner at Mishcon de Reya, who led a discussion on ‘The Gender Pay Gap’. Two years ago, the UK was one of the first countries in the world to introduce it; now, employers with more than 250 employees have to report once a year on the average difference of remuneration between men and women across the organisation. Although this gap has been narrowing since the late 1990s, there is still a lot to do to reach equal pay. Sarah Keeble suggested more unbiased training, flexible working hours, mentoring and work experience from an early age for children: just like a company cannot see the gender pay gap without producing figures, a child cannot see equal opportunities without being presented with examples.

For those who will be tuning in enjoy the FA Cup final, as a United supporter I will be spending the weekend celebrating the end of the season!

Best Wishes,


James Jones, Director of Account Management

Event highlights:

Tuesday 21st May 2019 – BEI
DFID Work on Governance, Open Societies and Anti-Corruption
Charlotte Hull, Head of Governance, Open Societies and Anti-Corruption Department

Wednesday 22nd May 2019 – BEI
DFID Global Funds Department Update
Niall Fry, Deputy Head, DFID Global Funds Unit

Wednesday 22nd May 2019 – BEI
Argentina Infrastructure Opportunities
Inbound UK-Argentine Mission Delegation

Wednesday 22nd May 2019 – The D Group Dinner
My Vision for Defence People and Veterans
The Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, Parliament Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Ministry of Defence

Wednesday 29th May 2019 – BEI
DFID Work in the Middle East and North Africa 
Emma Donelly, Deputy Director of DFID’s Middle East and North Africa Division

Wednesday 29th May 2019 – The D Group Dinner
The Future of Air Power 
Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen John Hillier, KCB CBE, DFC, Chief of the Air Staff

Thursday 30th May 2019 – The D Group Dinner
Dealing with the Russians 
Dr Andrew Monaghan, Director of Research on Russia and Northern European Defence and Security, The Changing Character of War Centre, Pembroke College, University of Oxford