The political turmoil in the U.K. won’t alter crypto’s bright future in the country, lawmaker Lisa Cameron said.
The U.K. has seen its Conservative leadership change hands repeatedly over the last year, prompting support for the Labour Party – the main opposition party – to rise to levels not seen since the late 1990s. Even though voters may choose new leaders in the next election that are now set for 2025 but that could happen sooner, Cameron said in an interview with CoinDesk that she is certain the U.K. will maintain a friendly approach to crypto.
The industry’s concerns over how crypto might be treated under new leadership may stem from comments made by recently appointed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak about his ambitions to turn the country into a hub for crypto.
Sunak, who in October became the third Conservative Party member to take up the position of prime minister in two months, outlined his plans for crypto while he served as finance minister under former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Members of the local crypto community have viewed Sunak’s appointment as prime minister as a boon to the industry.
But if Parliament succeeded in moving up the 2025 elections through a no-confidence vote on Sunak, the opposition Labour Party could win and potentially throw the Conservative government’s plans to attract crypto businesses to the country off balance. Yet, Cameron, who is a member of Parliament representing the Scottish National Party (SNP), isn’t worried.
Cameron, who is chairwoman of the All Parliamentary Group for Crypto and Digital Assets (APPG), a forum of lawmakers, said she is sure that crypto will remain a nonpartisan issue no matter who runs the government.
“I do think from a working-cross party, that people are gradually realizing in all the parties, so that no matter who is in government now or in the future, that [crypto] is an area of innovation, technology and of real dynamism for the future,” Cameron said.
Progress despite the turbulence
The political turbulence so far has had little effect on the crypto policies that are in the works. The Financial Services and Markets bill, which would bring digital assets under the scope of financial regulators, and the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency bill, which would help authorities recover crypto linked to criminal activity, are still making progress despite the high-profile entrance and exit of former Prime Minister Liz Truss.
U.K. leaders are even more sympathetic toward the technologies that underlie crypto. Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor of the Bank of England, has said distributed ledger technology could be used in settling trades of traditional assets. Meanwhile, Lords, who are members of the upper branch of Parliament, have introduced a bill that could enable trade documents to be stored on a blockchain.
The Labour Party, however, might have a more skeptical view of crypto. “Many are rightly questioning whether crypto has a future at all,” Labour Party Treasury spokeswoman Abena Oppong-Asare said during a debate in Parliament in September.
Although the government is ushering in new legislation for crypto, much of what happens to the burgeoning sector depends on the Financial Conduct Authority. Crypto firms must register with the FCA to operate in the U.K., and depending on legislation, the FCA, which is known for being critical of crypto, could end up with the power to determine how crypto firms can advertise and reach out to U.K. clients.
Cameron’s APPG group, which was formed in December 2021, already has representatives from the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democratic and SNP parties shaping the crypto debate.
“Actually my job is to almost engage everybody and make sure that this is apolitical so that we have our framework going forward and, yes, different governments will want to put their own mark on it or their own stamp on it moving forward,” Cameron said. “But then, we have underpinning that, a group of parliamentarians right across all the parties who can discuss it, debate it and inform whichever strategy goes ahead.”
The APPG will also be releasing its first inquiry report, which will consider whether the U.K. government’s vision to make the country a crypto hub is an achievable goal. The report will look at the “components of that vision, how achievable it is and what we need to put in place,” Cameron said. The report is scheduled to be published in January.
On the ‘Hunt’
The future of the country's plans for a crypto hub rests partly in the hands of the seemingly crypto-friendly Sunak as well as with new Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt. The Treasury department Hunt oversees ushered in new stablecoin proposals in July.
Hunt hasn’t expressed any views on crypto in public, but Cameron, who served on the health committee while Hunt was health minister between 2012 and 2018, said she “knows Jeremy very well.”
“He [Hunt] likes to be on the ball with things. He looks at detail, he is someone who puts time in to methodically examine areas, and I think that's a good thing moving forward for this sector,” Cameron said. “And I would say that he's also someone who's interested in and understands the capacity and capability of digital transformation.”
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.
Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.