Hung parliament: Business reactions from across the capital

Here’s what was said

London Chamber says forming a credible Government is essential

One of London’s biggest business lobby groups has Friday called on political party leaders to establish a credible government as soon as possible so they can get to work, as the infrastructure projects need to be protected and re-energise the whole country’s economy.

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) believes it is vital for a new government to protect the country for any further instability.

LCCI chief executive, Colin Stanbridge said: “A hung parliament is a hugely frustrating result for businesses, only creating more uncertainty on top of the recent impact of the referendum vote, increasing costs and currency fluctuation.

“There is no time to waste in establishing a good deal for London in the Brexit negotiations and protecting the country’s economy but protecting the capital’s economy.

“Pivotal to that is infrastructure investment in London as well as securing the rights of EU national in the UK as well as ensuring we have access to skills in the necessary numbers to protect our workforce.

“We must also look to equip the next generation with the skills it needs to succeed.”

Before the election London Chamber of Commerce and Industry published its London Business Manifesto “Capital Matters” setting out its key asks for the next Government to ensure that London continues to maintain its status as a globally competitive city. 

Charlie Mullins OBE owner of Pimilico Plumbers said this:

Well, Theresa May took what she thought was her chance, and got it all terribly, terribly wrong. She wanted a mandate to push through with the hardest version of Brexit, and quite clearly the people have made it very clear that they didn’t share her vision.

Labour have been the huge winners on the night, but crucially and thank god, they have not won the election. The party with the most seats, and in most educated views, the only one likely to be able to form a government, is the Conservative Party, with or without Theresa May as Prime Minister.

We need to be under no illusions; this was not a show of support for the socialist agenda that was sitting on Mr Corbyn’s stall, it was a vote against what Theresa May had set out on hers. We are extremely lucky that the protest vote, which went almost entirely in Labour’s direction, fell just a few percentage points short of what was needed to form a government.  

Theresa May ran a ramshackle campaign, and by the end of it wasn’t looking anything like the ‘strong and stable’ leader her mantra was claiming. But what I think sunk her above all else, and in ‘all else’ I include the Social Care climb down, is her blatant ignoring of the 48 per cent of people who voted to Remain inside the EU. That is what ultimately rose up and bit her on the arse.

Politically there will be a coalition with the DUP, or a minority government with their support. The Tories may keep Theresa May for a while, sort of nail her up to take all the flack, rather than risk sacrificing another big beast. Or they might dispatch her quickly.  Either way I think she’s a spent force. There could also very likely be another election before Christmas, should whatever is bodged together not take.

The big winner, once the smoke has cleared, will however be business. Whatever happens now the chances of an ultra-hard Brexit are significantly lessened. I’d say smashed, but the last two years have taught me there are no absolutes. You might argue, as I am this morning, that this result was exactly in line with the true will of the people on June 23 last year.

There was undoubtedly an appetite for Brexit, but not the dystopian version that was being proposed, involving a departure from the European single market and immigration controls dictated by dogma, not common sense, as dictated by economic need.

What we see this morning is the true will of the people teased out. Yes a majority wanted to change their relationship with Europe, and now thanks to this snap election, we now also know that a majority of people didn’t vote for the mindless, xenophobic version, and economically damaging version of Brexit that was being forced upon them.

Like I’ve always said, nobody voted in the referendum to be poorer. So, I guess you could say, rather ironically, Theresa May’s biggest mistake was that she ignored the will of the people!   

Seb Maley CEO of Qdos contractor had this to say:

Pro-business, pro-freelancing government partnership is key.

Following a hung parliament in the General Election, leading contractor tax adviser, Qdos Contractor, has called for any incoming to prioritise business, and the growing needs of the UK’s 2m independent workers.

Qdos Contractor CEO, Seb Maley, said: “Following a hung parliament, uncertainty is inevitable, from a political and business perspective. And it’s in times of uncertainty that the UK’s independent workforce has shown its true value to the economy, contributing £119bn in 2016 - a year dominated by Brexit concerns.

“It’s time the growing needs of the UK’s 2m freelancers and contractors were prioritised. Recent and questionable changes to the tax system have targeted the independent workforce. This cannot go on.

“It’s clear that any incoming government has a fresh opportunity to work with freelancers and contractors to build a fairer, smarter and simplified tax system - and one which the independent workforce, the economy and indeed any government will benefit from.”

“We urge politicians and political parties to think carefully about who they form a partnership with, for the good of the UK, the prosperity of business and to help our influential independent workforce to thrive.”

Paul Marston, Managing Director of RateSetter Commercial Finance, said:

“Without doubt, a hung Parliament is the worst outcome for the business community. While politicians vie for position over the next few days, a shadow of uncertainty forms, meaning that small business owners are more likely to put their growth plans on ice until the political and economic outlook stabilises.

“However, UK small businesses have experienced coalition government before, and excel at adapting to new circumstances. So, in the longer term, I am optimistic that we will see businesses continuing to invest, grow and create wealth and jobs.”

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“After two long years of elections, referenda and wider uncertainty, many businesses were doing their best to ignore the noise of politics – up until today. 

“The electorate’s split decision generates further uncertainty for business communities, who are already grappling with currency fluctuations, rising costs, and the potential impacts of Brexit.  

“The formation of a workable administration that can give voters and businesses confidence around economic management must be the immediate priority. 

“Whilst companies have for many months done their best to screen out political noise in order to focus on their own operations, this result will prove much harder for UK businesses to ignore. The swift formation of a functioning government is essential to business confidence and our wider economic prospects. 

“Businesses are adept at forming alliances and coalitions when important interests are at stake. We should expect the same of our politicians.” 

On the timetable for Brexit negotiations, which are scheduled to begin in less than a fortnight, Dr Marshall said: “No business would walk into a negotiation without clear objectives, an agreed starting position, and a strong negotiating team. It is hard to see how Brexit negotiations could begin without answers on these important questions.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said:

“This is a serious moment for the UK economy. The priority must be for politicians to get their house in order and form a functioning government, reassure the markets and protect our resilient economy.

“Politicians must act responsibly, putting the interests of the country first and showing the world that the UK remains a safe destination for business. It’s time to put the economy back to the top of the agenda.

“For the next Government, the need and opportunity to deliver an open, competitive and fair post-Brexit economy that works for everyone across all our nations and regions has never been more important.

“This can only be achieved if the next government doesn’t put the brakes on business, remains open to the world and sets out a pro-enterprise vision.

“Firms will support the UK develop our inclusive, innovative and open economy. More than ever, the new Government must work together with business to make the most of the opportunities ahead. Firms can provide the evidence, ideas and solutions from the shop, office and factory floor to secure our future prosperity.” 

Emma Jones, founder Somerset House-based small business support group, Enterprise Nation, said:

“When we held our own debate last month, we were astonished to see the Conservatives lose a lot of ground to the Lib Dems.  Historically, the Tories have always been the party of business - but it’s clear this unnecessary decision to have a snap election was not well judged at all.  What will follow now will undoubtedly not be the stability and the focus on the economy business so desperately needs and deserves, but yet more upheaval, more uncertainty and less confidence.

“This has not been the vote of confidence for a hard Brexit Theresa May wanted and promised. That whole stance will have to be reconsidered which will mean the kinds of reforms business has been pushing for will only be further delayed.

“The only glimmer of hope is that this election has paved the way for a soft Brexit which is something our small business members would welcome.”

 

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