UK Election Result 'Likely To Bring An End To Business Uncertainty'
A number of retail, food and beverage groups have given a cautious welcome to the Conservative party's victory in the UK General Election last night, stating that they were hopeful that the result will bring an end to the uncertainty that has plagued British business in recent years.
According to the latest tallies, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's (pictured) party took 364 seats in the election, securing a majority in parliament, with rivals Labour taking 203 seats.
Among the first to congratulate the Prime Minister was US president Donald Trump, who tweeted that the UK and US will 'now be free to strike a massive new Trade Deal after Brexit. This deal has the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative than any deal that could be made with the EU'.
Here's how the industry saw it:
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that it was 'looking forward' to working with the new government on issues pertaining to the retail sector, noting that the Prime Minister "must now fulfil his manifesto pledge and urgently begin a fundamental review into the broken business rates system to relieve the burden on retail businesses and create a system fit for the 21st century," commented Helen Dickinson, its chief executive.
“Retailers employ three million people across the UK, making the industry the UK’s largest private sector employer. It is therefore important that the Apprenticeship Levy is made more flexible to enable the industry to use funds for any form of accredited training to suit its skills needs and create a workforce fit for the future. Equally, retailers need to see action from Government to tackle retail violence."
Dickinson also said that it is "vital" that over the coming days and weeks, the UK government seeks to bring clarity on the UK's future trading relationship with the European Union, and ensure that it pursues a deal that "maintains tariff-free, frictionless trade with the EU".
With retail conditions the "toughest they have been for a decade", she said that Johnson's government "must act to support the successful reinvention of retail locations and local communities. We look forward to working with Ministers on a strategy to strengthen the retail industry during this period of unprecedented change".
The UK's Food & Drink Federation (FDF) said that it 'congratulated' the Prime Minister on his election victory, saying that for too long, 'business has been mired in a sea of political uncertainty, hitting investment, productivity and long-term growth'.
Noting that the UK's food and drink industry employs more than 450,000 people, and is valued at around £31.1 billion, FDF's chief operating officer, Tim Rycroft, said, “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 as the most dynamic, sustainable, resilient and competitive industry, by boosting exports, developing talent and encouraging innovation.
“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.”
Elsewhere, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), which represents the UK wine and spirit trade, said that it was 'looking forward' to working with the new government, "to end the crippling uncertainty which has plagued UK businesses since the vote to leave the EU," commented Miles Beale, chief executive.
"It is key that we complete the ambitious Brexit timetable with a withdrawal agreement that supports UK businesses and eliminates any risk of ‘No Deal’ scenario."
Beale added that the WSTA welcomes the government's pledge to 'back British business', adding that this "can start immediately by cutting wine and spirit tax. A cut to all hospitality business rates would also provide a welcome boost to the struggling high street".
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said that it was important that Prime Minister Johnson and his party use their 'clear mandate' 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," commented Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director general. "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."
Industry analyst Russ Mould of AJ Bell added, “There still remains much uncertainty with regards to Brexit and so today’s market fanfare may not necessarily be setting the tone for how all of 2020 will play out.
“Markets hate uncertainty and ultimately Brexit will become centre-stage again. Investors have been served a distraction in the form of the General Election in recent weeks but the focus will now have to shift back to the structure of any trade deal and what could happen to the UK at the end of the 2020 transition period.
“Short-term the Conservatives have discussed increased spending which could give the economy a boost. Longer-term still remains uncertain and so markets are not going to keep opening bottles of champagne to toast a new dawn for the country.”
© 2019 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.