What does the General Election result mean for UK manufacturing & business?...

13 December 2019

Boris Johnson, Conservative Party leader & UK Prime Minister
Boris Johnson, Conservative Party leader & UK Prime Minister

As the UK wakes up to an election victory for Boris Johnson's Conservatives, business & trade organisations tell the Prime Minister what UK manufacturing & business needs from his new majority government – urging him to rebuild UK economic confidence & break the cycle of uncertainty.

Stephen Phipson, Chief Executive of 'the manufacturers' organisation', Make UK comments on what the Conservative majority government means for UK manufacturing:

I would like to congratulate Boris Johnson and the Conservatives on winning the election and securing a clear mandate. Uncertainty and delay have caused great damage and manufacturers will hope this result means that the skies can now begin to clear.

The recent focus on Brexit and the absence of bandwidth in Government has meant that there has been little movement on many vital policy issues and there remains work to do before industry can turn on the taps of investment.

The first job is the urgent need to begin negotiations on our future trading relationship with Europe, cementing frictionless trade, access to key skills, regulatory alignment and space for business to prepare for new arrangements. Manufacturing exports are one of the powerhouses of our economy and we must allow them to flourish.

At the same time we call on the Prime Minister to set out a vision for the future of our economy which allies a re-invigorated plan for modern industrial transformation and growth with how we are going to tackle the immense societal challenges, such as digitisation and climate change.

Today is a new start and we hope that the Prime Minister and his Government get down to work with a matter of urgency to promote growth, investment and skilled jobs across the whole of the UK. We stand ready to work together in partnership to archive these aims.

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General of 'the voice of business', the CBI said:

Congratulations to Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party. After three years of gridlock, the Prime Minister has a clear mandate to govern. Businesses across the UK urge him to use it to rebuild confidence in our economy and break the cycle of uncertainty.

Employers share the Prime Minister’s optimism for the UK and are ready to play a leading role. They can bring the innovation, investment and jobs for a new era of inclusive growth. The biggest issues of our times – from tackling climate change to reskilling the workforce for new technologies – can only be delivered through real partnership between government and business.

The starting point must be rebuilding business confidence, and early reassurance on Brexit will be vital. Firms will continue to do all they can to prepare for Brexit but will want to know they won’t face another no deal cliff-edge next year. Pro-enterprise policies on immigration, infrastructure, innovation and skills will help relaunch the UK on the world stage.

Despite recent challenges, the UK remains a great place to start and build a business. A new contract between enterprise and government can make the UK a global magnet for investment, powering higher productivity and living standards across the UK.

Responding to the result of the General Election, Jonathan Geldart, Director General of the Institute of Directors said:

Business as a group within society does not decide elections, but in the coming days leaders of companies large and small will be responding to the new situation. After years of parliamentary chaos, directors want to see a Government that is clear-sighted about the challenges facing businesses, and ambitious, but realistic, in its response. British companies have been resilient amid the confusion, but they are eager for some clarity now.

Business leaders’ thoughts will immediately be turning to Brexit. For directors, ‘Get Brexit Done’ will only have meaning once the details of our long-term future relationship with the EU are clear, they need a framework to plan for the future from. The Prime Minister must resist the urge for arbitrary negotiating deadlines, and should commit to a proper adjustment period that starts when businesses know the full detail of what changes they may be facing. Our members have made clear that the content and shape of any new deal are much more important than simply the speed in getting there.

On the domestic front, we must now see progress on the challenges that have been holding the economy back, from skills to infrastructure. Many directors will be waiting for action on manifesto commitments such as incentives for R&D investment and business rates reform. Meanwhile, there are still big question marks around the Conservatives’ plans on immigration and big-ticket infrastructure projects.

Congratulating the Prime Minister on his election victory, British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Director General, Dr Adam Marshall said:

Restoring business, investor and consumer confidence – and firing up the economy – must now be the Prime Minister’s top priority.

Campaign slogans must give way to a renewed focus on the details that matter. Our business communities need to see swift, decisive action to avoid a messy and disorderly exit from the EU and to tackle the barriers holding back investment and growth here in the UK.

BCC says businesses’ priorities for the new government include:
1. Avoiding a no-deal exit from the EU and delivering a smooth transition giving firms time to prepare.
2. Acting rapidly to reform business rates and replace them with a fairer system.
3. Pressing ahead with improvements to transport infrastructure including HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and additional capacity at Heathrow.
4. Investing in our skills base and reforming the Apprenticeships Levy so that more small firms can access high-quality training locally, at affordable cost.
5. Delivering a sensible immigration system that gives firms access to essential overseas talent at all levels.

Ritam Gandhi, Director of Studio Graphene, who help companies plan, design, develop and launch digital & tech products, reacted to the General Election result.

The previous government was for the most part supportive of the UK’s tech sector, increasing investment avenues and upskilling the workforce. In many ways, the Conservative Party’s latest victory means that tech companies can begin planning for the future knowing there won’t be a major overhaul of existing policies and initiatives.
The UK’s tech sector has been fundamental to the country’s economic success. Brexit could damage this, which is why the newly elected government must ensure it is protecting the interests of this sector. The Conservatives have been vocal in making the UK a global competitor in tech, and I see no reason why this cannot be the case – we definitely have the skills, workforce and drive to achieve this goal. However, this government shouldn’t be complacent.
I hope this newly elected government looks beyond Brexit and maps out their vision for tech startups through to large corporates sooner rather than later. This will ensure we can remain a global hub for tech innovation and growth.

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