General Election result: National business reaction

June 9, 2017

The unexpected outcome of the General Election and the resulting hung Parliament has sent shock waves through businesses and the organisations representing them.

Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI, said it was 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,” she said.

Politicians had to act responsibly, putting the interests of the country first and showing the world that the UK remained a safe destination for business.

“It’s time to put the economy back to the top of the agenda,” she added.

“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 would support the government if it developed 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,” she said. 

Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, also feared the uncertainty of a hung Parliament would hit UK business at a crucial time. 

“Businesses have shown in the last year that they are resilient to surprise results, but they have now been thrown into political limbo. With crucial Brexit negotiations coming up fast, in addition to the significant domestic challenges we face, the lack of a government with a majority undeniably creates uncertainty,” he said. 

“The pound has predictably fallen on the news of a hung Parliament, but the majority of British business will be waiting to see whether a stable government can be formed in short order.”

If the Conservatives governed as a minority, they must recognise that they have not earned a mandate to implement their manifesto in full, he said.

“Now is the time to move on from the rhetoric of the election campaign and focus on preparing for Brexit talks. The issues of access to EU markets and the need for skilled workers are still paramount, and Brussels will be keen to get negotiations underway soon.

“But ministers also cannot take their eye off the ball on important long-term issues such as renewing the UK’s infrastructure, making sure our education system keeps up with developing technologies and business models, and our tax system is competitive and reflective of today’s economy.

“To do this, it will be vital that the voice of business is listened to, in a way that was not always the case in this election.”

He said business leaders were acutely aware that Parliaments without majorities were more prone to politicking and point-scoring than most and, if there is to be a minority Government, then both sides of the aisle must swallow their pride and work on a cross-party basis on the most important issues.

“The last thing business leaders need is a Parliament in paralysis, and the consequences for British businesses and for the UK as an investment destination would be severe,” he said.

Two weeks ago on his first visit to the West of England since taking up his role in February, Mr Martin said the new government must strengthen the UK’s ability to help businesses start up and grow – including ditching the view that all immigration is bad.



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