Mersey business leaders’ reaction to General Election announcement

Parliament is almost certain to agree to Theresa May’s  proposal on Wednesday after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was ready to take on the Tories. Jennie Lewis and Tony McDonough report

Britain is set to go to the polls on June 8

Leading business figures in the Liverpool city region have offered their reaction to Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to hold a General Election on June 8.

Parliament agreed to the proposal on Wednesday after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was ready to take on the Tories.

Chief executive of Liverpool & Sefton Chamber of Commerce, Jenny Stewart said calling an election did pose some risk but believes it could offer a period of stability once a new Government is in place.

She said: “Businesses like certainty and they prefer a settled economic and political landscape.

“While the announcement of a General Election for June creates some temporary uncertainty it will mean the new Government can enter into Brexit negotiations with a clearer mandate from the British people.

“What our business community needs most is confidence. We need to feel confident in a leader who will steer the country through impending changes boldly, strategically and steadfastly – and in a manner that presents new opportunities.

“The General Election could provide exactly that.”

Reverse campaign

However, Ms Stewart also question the Prime Minister’s motives for calling the election, adding: “If the Prime Minister’s confidence is misplaced, a snap election could backfire entirely and there could still be an opportunity for other parties to spark a reverse campaign and win the Remainers votes – and where exactly would that leave us?

“There is an argument to suggest that Theresa May’s decision for a snap election is fuelled by self-interest – to firstly consolidate her position as elected Prime Minister; and secondly to enable her own path in controlling Brexit negotiations outright – without consultation from other parties – which suggests the much-speculated hard Brexit could be far more likely.”

Jenny Stewart, CEO of Liverpool and Sefton Chamber of Commerce

Leading Liverpool accountant Peter Taaffe claims calling an election this close to the start of the Brexit negotiations risked putting uncertainty of top of uncertainty.

The managing partner of BWMacfarlane explained: “Brexit presented uncertainty in bucket loads. The last thing we need now is further uncertainty on the cusp of the Brexit negotiations progress.

“What’s more, Theresa May’s decision for a snap election rather gives the impression we can’t present a coherent negotiating position – or at least suggests that our position is in danger of being undermined by our own domestic arguments.

Mission impossible?

“Let’s face it, we are having to negotiate with 26 countries, any one of which can veto the deal in whole or in part, and then of course the European Parliament is also determined to flex its own muscles.

“Is delivering a successful Brexit Mission Impossible?

“Maybe it is, but we do need to give our own negotiators as strong a hand as we can. We may not like that hand, or how its dealt, but at the same time, a desperate situation needs strong leadership.

Peter Taaffe, managing partner of BWMacfarlane

 

“At least the election will give the country the chance to determine that leadership and to give some voice to the direction of those negotiations. 

Tracey Quirk, partner and head of residential property at at MSB Solicitors, agreed with Jenny Stewart that the election could present an opportunity to inject more calm into the economy.

She explained: “What we have to do now is to consider the party we trust most to look after the interests of our economy – let’s see this as an opportunity.

“In the short term, this will inevitably present further uncertainty at a time when there are still many unanswered questions in relation to Britain’s exit from the EU.

Tracey Quirk, partner and head of residential property at at MSB Solicitors

“During times of uncertainty, consumer sentiment and appetite can be affected. And while the banks are continuing to lend, many people are taking the decision to renovate rather than move home.

Squeezed incomes

“A recent survey from Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, however, reported that 80% of people said Brexit was having no impact on their plans to buy and sell property. 

“But sentiment can change quickly. The latest data from the Office for National Statistics showed inflation-adjusted pay growth inched up just 0.2% in the three months to February, the weakest increase since mid-2014.

“With inflation now running at 2.3% – the highest since September 2013 – real incomes are set to be squeezed and that could dampen enthusiasm for taking on new debt.

 “What we do know is that the housing market is typically very resilient and we have every confidence that the sector will navigate its way through any affecting changes quickly and smoothly.”

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