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May calls snap election: Industry reaction

Prominent business figures from across the North West have been reacting to the news that Britain could go to the polls once again this summer.

The Prime Minister’s plan for a June vote is today expected to easily secure the two-thirds Commons majority required to go ahead.

Theresa May said yesterday that an election is the only way to guarantee “certainty and stability” in the wake of Brexit and the theme of certainty was prevalent in the responses of many of the region’s business experts.

Chris Cheap

Chris Cheap, regional senior director of GVA’s Manchester office, believes the Prime Minister’s announcement whilst surprising was not totally unexpected and hopes for a minimum of market uncertainty.

He adds: “Whatever the outcome, we hope that the election will provide government with a stronger and more unified mandate giving investors and markets greater clarity and confidence as well as opportunities for encouraging much-needed investment across the UK.”

John Barker

Meanwhile John Barker, partner at Hitchcock Wright & Partners, bemoans yet another knock to market certainty and wonders if any positive post-Brexit signs will be curtailed in the wake of the pronouncement.

He says: “Just when we thought we had enough uncertainty – the politicians throw another curve ball.

“The markets don’t like uncertainty and this snap general election may lead to a delay in decision making such as holding off acquisitions and disposals of property until after the election.

“I think if we were in a recessionary period this action would prove damaging, however in relative terms there are positive signs that the UK is powering ahead despite Brexit fears. This may be reversed if the election is viewed as a panic in response to Brexit.”

Jenny Stewart

Jenny Stewart , chief executive of Liverpool & Sefton Chamber of Commerce, says: “Businesses like certainty and they prefer a settled economic and political landscape.

“While the announcement of a general election for June creates some temporary uncertainty it will mean the new government can enter into Brexit negotiations with a clearer mandate from the British people.

“What our business community needs most is confidence. We need to feel confident in a leader who will steer the country through impending changes boldly, strategically and steadfastly – and in a manner that presents new opportunities.

“The general election could provide exactly that. On the other hand, if the Prime Minister’s confidence is misplaced, a snap election could backfire entirely and there could still be an opportunity for other parties to spark a reverse campaign and win the Remainers votes – and where exactly would that leave us?

“There is an argument to suggest that May’s decision for a snap election is fuelled by self-interest – to firstly consolidate her position as elected Prime Minister; and secondly to enable her own path in controlling Brexit negotiations outright – without consultation from other parties – which suggests the much-speculated hard Brexit could be far more likely.”

 

Jon Neale

Jon Neale, head of UK Research at JLL UK, says: “The announcement of a snap general election on 8 June is a genuine positive for the UK property industry.

“It will mean that a general election is no longer likely to coincide with the end of the two-year negotiating period following the triggering of Article 50. The Prime Minister will now be under less pressure to ‘deliver Brexit’ by 2020 – making a transitional phase more likely.

“The threat of UK businesses having to face a ‘cliff edge’ – a fall back to WTO trading rules and full customs controls with the European Union – has retreated. Companies will still have to make contingency plans, but there may be less pressure on companies to plan for a sharp exit without the ‘deep relationship’ that the current government wants with the EU being agreed.

“This should help improve confidence in the market. The residential market should benefit too, for similar reasons. However, much still depends on the course of the negotiations and the result of the general election.”