Few predicted the result of the General Election, which now sees Theresa May seeking cross-party support to form a government. It’s a far-cry from the mandate the Prime Minister was seeking when she announced the election back in May.
Uncertainty about the future is a permanent feature of business. We make our plans and forecasts, look at different scenarios and deploy our resources accordingly; adjusting those as we go depending upon how our plans turn out and our view of the future changes.
The added complication that business has had since June 2016 is the uncertainty caused by the implications of the Brexit vote. Whatever your political views, the problem stems from the simple fact that 48% of those voting in the referendum voted to Remain and 52% voted to Leave, but there was absolutely no indication (let alone agreement) on what “Leave” actually meant, and we still have no idea.
We now have less than 2 years for that to be worked out; the exit deadline of March 2019 being unchanged. But with the added complication of a minority Government that will have to revisit the basic questions of what sort of relationship we wish to have with Europe (and indeed the rest of the World) after March 2019 and build a consensus in Parliament and with the British People. All of this will take time, yet negotiations with Brussels start in a week.
Businesses across the UK have had to operate in this environment since the Brexit vote in June 2016. Many of our customers have, in fact, grown and have an optimistic outlook for the next year. Investment in equipment, hiring of staff, upgrading offices and delivering better profits play a large part of many of their lives, showing that good businesses will continue irrespective of election results.
There are positives to come out of the doubt caused by a hung parliament. Both the pound, which initially dropped 2% and then recovered most of those losses, and the stock market, which recorded a rise in value by the end of trading on Friday, suggested that a weakened Conservative government is likely to mean that the much discussed “Hard Brexit” will now be harder to achieve.
For the business community, this is welcome news. To date, access to the Single Market, the Customs Union and the rights of EU nationals working in the UK, among other issues, have been discussed in a vacuum without clarity on the possible outcomes. Political compromises will now have to be made and debate can take place with constructive results, UK business has an important voice to be heard in this debate.
Business as usual
For our customers, it’s business as usual post-election, and the same goes for us. We will continue to support UK business in all sectors and be there with expert guidance when they need it. I want our customers to know that Ultimate Finance is working hard to provide them with the funding they need, when they need it, and in a package that they can use.
We have the people, the products, the resources and the vision to do this – and we will.