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Rebecca Wayman

'Landslide' Conservative win for 2019 general election: Businesses react

The Conservatives have won the December 12 UK general election with a staggering 364 seats in place.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now promising that the Tories will deliver a “people’s party” and Brexit will be going ahead come January 31, 2020.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has told the British public he is to eventually step down from his role of leader of the Labour Party come another general election, after it only gained 203 seats.

Many traditionally Labour areas across the UK have turned blue in favour of Boris Johnson for this election.

Many are joyous at the idea of Brexit finally going to plan with Boris’ ‘comfortable’ majority win, yet others are genuinely fearful and scared for the UK’s future. But what does this result mean for businesses, small and large?

Here, UK business leaders and entrepreneurs react to the result of possibly the most historic election of the century so far.

Bea Montoya, chief operating officer at Simply Business

“SMEs are the backbone of our economy, accounting for 99 per cent of all British business, and contributing a combined £2tn in annual turnover.

“However, too often they’re resigned to being little more than an afterthought for government. It is absolutely vital that small business owners and self-employed people are not left behind in this new era of leadership.

“We urge Boris Johnson and his party to make small businesses a priority and to support the nation’s self-employed workforce. The standard rate of business tax is at its highest level since 1990, at over 50 per cent, and is a major issue for businesses across all sectors of the economy, so a review of rates will be well received.”

Dylan McKee, co-founder and CEO of Nebula Labs

‘A majority Conservative government is really a surprise. We’ve not really heard anything during the election campaign about what a Conservative government would do for small businesses, or for those in the tech sector.

“So our main concern remains what impact Brexit may have - particularly with the risk of a no-deal hard Brexit.

“As an agile digital business we enjoy the benefits currently of being able to have both staff and clients located outside the region and country, and take advantage of the EU’s digital single market.

“We hope to continue the benefits we currently get from EU membership, rather than see an impact which brings more bureaucracy and less freedom.”

Mark Pollack, director and co-founder of Aston Chase

“The outcome of the 2019 general election and a Conservative-led government will inevitably provide an enormous boost for the London residential property market.

“With Boris Johnson’s victory, we now have a greater level of certainty surrounding the outcome of Brexit affording a great sense of relief and renewed confidence in the knowledge of a hopefully more stable political future.”

North East England Chamber of Commerce

“We look forward to working constructively with Boris Johnson following his election victory and return to 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister.

“Businesses in our region will be hoping that stability and certainty will now ensue following a period of unprecedented political turmoil.

“Brexit is the number one challenge facing the government and we continue to be steadfast in our view that a No Deal situation must be avoided at all costs.

“The Prime Minister must now listen to the views of businesses across the country and work to secure a Brexit outcome that preserves our strong trading relationship with the EU and which does not harm our economic competitiveness.”

Tim Rycroft, chief operating officer at FDF

“We congratulate the Prime Minister and his government on the result of the General Election 2019. For too long, business has been mired in a sea of political uncertainty, hitting investment, productivity and long-term growth.

“As the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink is part of the UK’s critical national infrastructure and essential to national security. The nation’s £31.1bn industry employs over 450,000 people with a footprint in every community.

“UK food and drink is a national success story. As set out in our manifesto, we want to work in partnership with the government to reach our full potential… Food and drink from Great Britain and Northern Ireland is prized for its quality and provenance.

“Through a new national Food Strategy and a dedicated future trade policy for food and drink, we can ensure our industry flourishes and brings good jobs and growth to every corner of the UK.”

Lee Biggins, founder and CEO of CV-Library

“Thousands of employers put their recruitment plans on hold in the run up to the general election; but now it’s out of the way, businesses must try to continue as normal.

“As we approach the New Year, it’s the ideal time for organisations to move past the uncertainty and push forward with their hiring efforts - especially as job hunters will be doing the same.

“Whether the Conservative Party will be able to uphold its pledges around immigration, the national living wage, income tax thresholds and the recruitment and retention of NHS staff remains to be seen; particularly as our research shows the majority of Brits didn’t think any of the political parties could live up to their promises around job creation.

“The real focus for the government needs to be on instilling confidence back into our society; as this has been somewhat absent over the past 12 months.”

Adam Johnson, director of Tudor International Freight

“The Conservative victory will be welcomed by most businesses in the sense that it’s likely to inject increased certainty into the Brexit process.

“All the party’s candidates signed up to Boris Johnson’s withdrawal deal and his plan to leave the EU by January 31, so it seems overwhelmingly likely this will now happen.

“However, against that, the businesses we serve who sell to the EU would much prefer to remain in the bloc, as this will mean higher sales, lower costs and easier administration in relation to by far the UK’s largest trading partner.

“These companies are also acutely aware that the Prime Minister’s repeated campaign pledge that a Tory victory would mean ‘getting Brexit done’ was highly misleading, as leaving is only the first stage and in theory was the relatively straightforward part.

“Businesses will now watch with great interest the Prime Minister’s attempts to honour his promises to agree a wide and deep ‘best in class’ free trade deal with the EU, while advancing other options, such as a similar agreement with the US, which operates a very different regulatory framework.

“Businesses are also mindful that Brexit is not the only show in town. They are additionally looking to the new government for significant support on issues such as training and skills enhancements, broadband acceleration, road improvements and other infrastructure upgrades, and will judge its performance accordingly.”

Paul Sheffield, managing director at Drax Customers

“Businesses will likely be seeking advice on how they can mitigate the risk of disruption caused by the UK leaving the European Union.

“Now that a deal has been agreed and we know we’ll be leaving in January, businesses finally have clarity and can plan accordingly.

“One way to reduce the potential impact of rising electricity prices is to fix the unit cost of your electricity. Fixing helps businesses to forecast costs for the duration of the contract.

“Companies can reduce their dependence on the grid by installing renewable generation or battery storage on site. While this requires some up-front investment, the savings that it can bring - and the security of being more self-reliant - may well make it worthwhile.”

Charles Brook of Poppleton & Appleby

“UK Plc has got a majority government at last and a reliable prospect of an end to three years of indecisiveness that has beleaguered its economy. The stalemate is ended.

“While there will be many voters who will have decided where to place their cross on the ballot paper based upon local issues, not since the time of Margaret Thatcher has the outcome of a general election been anywhere near as decisive on issues that affect the UK at large, its economy and its place in the world as much as this.

“Boris Johnson took a chance pushing for yet another election, but he did so having made sure that the so-called Tory rebels, those anti-Brexiteers who still remain in the Conservative party, had been ousted or effectively neutralised in the process.

“This means that the UK now has what it really needed regardless of where your party political allegiances reside, a decisive outcome so that the economy at large and the confidence of the public in the Process of Government is restored.

“In the short term, this means that there is a much higher likelihood that the agreement which Boris Johnson has already reached with the EU will be approved if time permits in the house between now and January 31.

“It is now unlikely but, if the deal isn’t approved by Parliament before then the UK will still crash out of the EU with a so- called ‘hard Brexit’.

“I firmly believe that the UK economy has been in a form of a resession for at least the past three years. The UK economy is overdue some rebalancing, and while there is almost certainly going to be a positive bounce as a consequence of this result, some elements of the UK economy are overheated, and something will eventually have to give way.”

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