General election 2017: Businesses react to news of hung parliament

In a tumultuous result, the Conservatives have been unable to secure a majority vote. UK entrepreneurs have their say amidst brewing uncertainty

The 2017 general election results are in and, in a shock turn of events, there is no winning party.

With the highest turnout of voters in 25 years, the Conservative party has secured the most seats – 318 compared to Labour’s 261 – but they have been unable to clinch the 326 seats needed to take the majority, resulting in a hung parliament.

Rumours suggest Theresa May is currently in talks with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – which secured 10 seats – over forming a coalition, while Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on May ‘to resign’ to “make way for a government that is truly representative”.

The markets have also reacted, with pound to euro exchange rates plummeting overnight.

So where does this leave the UK’s small businesses and start-ups?

For most of the business owners we’ve heard from in the wake of the election result, there’s a general feeling that it has stirred up more questions than answers; particularly where the economy and Brexit is concerned.

Below, we’ve shared a number of immediate reactions to the general election from start-ups, small companies, established entrepreneurs, and industry organisations…

“This has not been the vote of confidence for a hard Brexit Theresa May wanted”

Emma Jones, founder of small business support network Enterprise Nation:

“Historically, the Conservatives have always been the party of business – but it’s clear this unnecessary decision to have a snap election was not well judged at all.  What will follow now will undoubtedly not be the stability and the focus on the economy business so desperately needs and deserves, but yet more upheaval, more uncertainty and less confidence.

“This has not been the vote of confidence for a hard Brexit Theresa May wanted and promised. That whole stance will have to be reconsidered which will mean the kinds of reforms business has been pushing for will only be further delayed.

“The only glimmer of hope is that this election has paved the way for a soft Brexit which is something our small business members would welcome.”

“This is a political and economic Mayday… but less of a shock than the Brexit referendum”

Richard Berry, founder of currency specialist Berry FX:

“What should have been a coronation for the prime minister, and a sustained boost for the pound, has turned into a political and economic Mayday. The markets opened on Friday exactly where they didn’t want to be — with a huge cloud of doubt hanging over both Britain’s political future and the course of Brexit.

“Opinion polls correctly predicted that Theresa May’s dreams of a decisive mandate were coming unstuck, so while this is an unwelcome result for the markets, it is less of a tectonic shock than that of the Brexit referendum. With Brexit negotiations due to start in little over a week, many in Brussels will be secretly licking their lips at the prospect of Britain’s weakened leader kicking off the process in shame rather than with a swagger. In reality, of course, the Brexit negotiations will be put on ice.”

“We can expect to see more small business issues take a back-seat”

Emily Mackay, CEO of crowdfunding analytics business Crowdsurfer:

“Given that the whole purpose of the election was to give the PM a stronger mandate for Brexit negotiations, it is hard to see much benefit at all for start-ups or the country as a whole.”

“Small business issues mostly took a back seat during the campaigning for this election anyway, but what’s clear now is that the issues that would really make a difference to small businesses – automation of tax systems, better access to finance, support for entrepreneurs in the form of tax breaks and pre-school childcare – will take even more of a back seat during what will inevitably be a period of huge uncertainty.

“Hopefully this uncertainty will be short-lived while a new government is formed, but more uncertainty and drag in the realising of economic benefits could be created by coalition parties who have differing views on how to support British business.”

“UK politics is in a state of shock – this result was the last thing UK businesses needed”

Paul Goodman, chairman of the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB):

“Faced with all the uncertainty of Brexit, a hung parliament was the last thing the UK business community needed, but that’s exactly what it got. Businesses, like markets, need certainty and a sense of direction to thrive. Following the shock election result, they have the exact opposite. UK politics is once again in a state of disarray and this is a tough environment for any business, especially those with international exposure, to operate in.

“Whatever the government that emerges from the ashes of this election, and whoever is leading it, it is vital that it creates the most stable environment it can. The world is looking at the UK more closely than ever, and the UK economy needs to exude strength.

“Business owners need to be reassured that the economy remains a key focus and is not forgotten amid the political infighting that’s surely set to come. Thankfully the UK economy is in a good place at present. It will certainly need to draw on all its reserves in the weeks and months ahead.”

“There should be a delay to the scheduled start of Brexit negotiations”

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB):

“In the coming hours and days, businesses need immediate reassurance from the government that emerges about how it will protect the economy from any political turmoil. The UK must be seen to remain open for business, with a government committed to supporting enterprise.

“It is important to go into the Brexit talks from a position of strength, focused on getting the best deal possible for trade and access to workers and skills. Negotiations should be led by a government and a Prime Minister that will be in place for the duration, and so we call for a delay to the scheduled start of negotiations rather than a rush to begin in 11 days’ time. The need for a transition period now becomes even stronger, providing the time to get Brexit right.”

“Whatever happens, the UK’s enterprising spirit will prevail”

Robert Gordon, CEO of finance provider Hitachi Capital UK:

“Uncertainty is always bad for business and investment, but we need to remind ourselves that we have been here before.

“While we hope that the political situation is resolved in a timely fashion, I have great confidence that the enterprising spirit of the populace will prevail and that we will continue to create new jobs, generate greater wealth and remain a key player on the global stage, whoever eventually assumes power. After all, it is businesses first and foremost, and not politicians, which dictate the health of our economy.”

Do you agree with these viewpoints? Have your say on the general election 2017 result in the comment box below or Tweet us using our Twitter handle @startupstowers.

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