General election 2017: industry reacts to hung Parliament


Prime Minister Theresa May’s gamble in calling a snap general election has backfired, with the Conservatives failing to win an overall majority resulting in a hung Parliament.

The Labour Party confounded the expectations of commentators who had predicted an electoral humiliation, with Jeremy Corbyn leading the party to an increased number of seats, seemingly buoyed by a higher turnout of young voters in the 18-24 age bracket.

After 646 of 650 had declared, the Conservatives had 315 seats, Labour 261, the Scottish National Party 35, Liberal Democrats 12 and Democratic Unionist Party 10, with ‘others’ on 13.

The result could lead to another coalition government as happened in 2010, a minority government, or even another general election.

Amid calls for her resignation, earlier this morning May said the country now needed “a period of stability”.

“If the Conservative party has won the most seats and the most votes it is incumbent upon us to ensure that period of stability and that’s what we will do.”

BPIF chief executive Charles Jarrold said: “It looks as if Theresa May will try to run with a minority government or form a coalition.

“In the short-term this creates very significant uncertainty and that’s not good for business.”

Jarrold said that the result appeared to make the prospect of a so-called hard Brexit less likely, which was ‘less bad’ for the economy.

Industry leaders also voiced their concern about uncertainty as a result of the outcome (see further comments from Jarrold and printing industry bosses from across the UK, below).

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said the result was a rejection of a hard Brexit: “Labour ran a good campaign – miles better than expected. The Tories got it wrong, badly. Corbyn is entitled to try to form a government, but the result is a rejection of a hard Brexit and for manufacturing the key issues of the access to the EU single market and customs union, a decent UK-EU trade deal, investment and jobs are back on the table.”

The printing industry had been largely in favour of a Conservative win, according to a recent PrintWeek poll.

Former print boss turned Tory MP Stephen Metcalfe increased his majority in the Basildon and East Thurrock constituency securing 26,811 votes, a 13.5% increase.

 

Industry reaction 

“The biggest immediate issue is Brexit and this puts into question whether a hard Brexit will happen. We have had little or no visibility from Theresa May about that. If we move away from hard Brexit it will be ‘less bad’ for the economy. The clock is ticking on Article 50 and October 2018 is not far away, and there is an unbelievable amount to do in that time. But above all sits productivity. Whatever else happens, improving productivity is key to improving the economy and is central to everything. There must be a focus on addressing that, and it’s about people and investment.” Charles Jarrold, BPIF

“'The electorate has made it clear that it is not convinced by the Conservative party's position on a range of issues, including Brexit negotiations, security and management of the economy. A hung parliament isn't the ideal outcome as the direction of the country is still unclear. However, we must now hope that a new government listens to the message given by voters including the view of business. In particular, I believe we must avoid a 'hard Brexit' and maintain a good relationship with Europe, which will in turn provide better prospects for trade, currency stability, employment prospects and security.” Paul Utting, chief executive, Walstead Group

“This unnecessary election, badly managed and ill-conceived has left the country in a state of uncertainty, weakness and confusion. Business flourishes best in times of stability where the future has at least an element of predictability - we have neither. In the short term we will see purse strings tightened, private investment on hold and 'initiatives' put to one side whilst the economy adjusts to a falling pound, a nervous stock market and an unknown pathway towards Brexit and should Labour form a government the potential additional costs and the inevitable burden of red tape. However, the British are nothing if not stoic and in the longer term small businesses particularly will adjust to the new landscape and will dig the politicians out of the mire – again. In business we always say NEVER SELL A NEGATIVE. Clinton tried and failed. Cameron tried (Brexit) and failed. May tried and failed. You would think they would learn – or at least get good advisers!” Nigel Toplis, managing director, The Bardon Group, including Kall Kwik and Recognition Express

“We were meant to get certainty and stability and we have ended up with quite a polar opposite, a hung parliament. Business needs certainty and we all want clarity. We were already in a period of massive uncertainty with nobody knowing what Brexit will actually end up looking like. This election result has done nothing except create more uncertainty and that’s not a place any business likes to be in when making investment decisions. I think it is fair to say that the DUP from Northern Ireland will likely play a much more important role in UK-wide politics than everyone thought pre the election result. The DUP are pro keeping the UK union together and a pro Brexit party which may well see them as an obvious ally and partner to the Conservatives to try and create a majority ‘partnership’ in government. The only conclusion I can draw at the moment is this is a split vote in a split country, which leaves immense uncertainty in our economic future. I think the business community would be a lot happier if one of the parties had just won a majority, at least then we would have been pretty sure what we would get!” Gary White, managing director, Northside & Bradbury Graphics

“Well I didn't see that result coming! The British public have had a ball in the last election and referendum sending out messages that they want change. However, when we wanted and needed to have stability again the public have scuppered the plan. Whether remainers have turned their allegiance we won't really know but we do know UKIP support has evaporated. As a result I think the printing industry is in for a really tough time in the next year or so. All of us purchase nearly everything from outside the UK, from equipment to paper and ink and the currency market is going to put pressure on sterling. Who knows what the political landscape will look like in the coming days and weeks but hold onto your hat we might have another General Election!” Andrew Jones, chairman and group managing director, Stephens & George 

“Well I think I am surprised as many people that we have a hung Parliament. I was hoping for strength going into Brexit and for me I thought that Conservative was the only option. So yes, I am one of the Scots who voted for Theresa. I thought she had the strength to carve out a great deal for the UK. Labour have done a good job convincing the young they are the party of choice or so my kids tell me. It all gets a bit worrying going forward with who will support who and more uncertainty of leaders and policy. But a win is a win and I am glad the Conservatives won [the most seats]. I am also pleased that the Scottish people sent a clear message to the SNP. We want to stay as part of the UK the unity we have is what make Britain GREAT! The SNP have done a good job for Scotland but the endless pursuit of independence and the militancy of all has been too much for most.” Stephen Docherty, managing director, Bell & Bain

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