UK start-ups welcome Theresa May as prime minister

We asked the UK’s start-ups and small businesses to have their say on May, the country's new prime minister. The response? Overwhelmingly positive...

On Wednesday 13 July, former home secretary Theresa May became prime minister of the UK.

The second only female in Britain’s history to take leadership of the country, new Conservative leader May has already announced that she intends to “change the system” as prime minister and will be hitting out at “big businesses”  but much less is known on how she plans to nurture and support the country’s start-ups and small businesses.

We wanted to find out how the UK’s start-up community have reacted to May’s premiership. Our question being; does May have the backing of start-up founders?

Having spoken to a number of business owners of fast-growth start-ups and small business from a cross-sector of industries, the answer to this question was a resounding ‘yes’. With an overwhelmingly positive reception, here’s what UK entrepreneurs had to say on May as prime minister…

“May will be a great female role model”

Debbie Wosskow OBE, CEO of Love Home Swap and founding chair of Sharing Economy UK:

“This is excellent news for two reasons. It puts an end to all the uncertainty and Britain can start to get back to business as usual but, most importantly, it is going to be great to have a female role model in power. Her steely character and pragmatic approach will set a good example to many female founders in business.”

“It’s a relief”

Company Check operations director, Chloe Webber:

“I think that many in the start-up community, regardless of their politics, will feel relieved that two months of political uncertainty at the heart of the Tories has been avoided. As for early elections, opposition leadership contests and Brexit deals, all of that comes next. Right now, I for one am pleased to see some semblance of stability return to the government after weeks of upheaval.

“To continue David Cameron’s metaphor, every ship needs a captain and the future looks more certain now we’ve got one. The fact that the captain is a woman after half a century of male dominance is significant. Within six months we could be in the unprecedented position of having women leading the UK’s two largest parties.”

“May brings clarity and decisiveness but her stance on immigration is concerning”

GROW@Green Park co-founder, Louize Clarke: 

“The good news for start-ups is that Theresa May’s appointment should settle this period of uncertainty that has impacted confidence so much. As prime minister, she’ll bring clarity to the post-Brexit business road-map and what this means for start-ups – not just those in London and the Northern Powerhouse but across the country. This government has been supportive of the tech and digital industries so I’d hope this will continue.

“We also know she recognises the importance of supporting female entrepreneurs, through the  mentoring scheme she introduced. There’s still work to be done here, via policy or otherwise, but having a woman PM sends out a positive message in itself.

“On the flip side, I know colleagues are concerned about her backing of the Tier 2 Visa scheme and her stance on immigration. Our start-ups’ success is massively dependent on access to great talent. Ultimately, May’s reputation for being decisive will be paramount for business stability in coming months.”

“May is a real negotiator”

Amy Harris, co-founder of CrunchBoards:

‘Having a strong female prime minister of Theresa May’s stature at the helm will add much-needed stability in a time of uncertainty and provide clarity in murky waters. For UK startups and small and medium enterprises to thrive, negotiating areas like trade and access to international talent are key.

“From what we can see, May is a real negotiator – and we are confident that she will make the right decisions to help startups in the UK grow and prosper.”

“The best politics news in days”

Ben Wynn, founder of DAD:

‘Come what May this has to be the best politics related news in recent days. We now have an experienced politician in charge who is renowned for being morally driven and consistent.
It is the unknown that creates fear and uncertainty and that can be highly destructive for startups and small and medium enterprises.

“I believe we face some tough times ahead but at least we are now a step closer to knowing what’s next. That’s a good thing.’

“May will stick to supporting businesses but she needs to consider business needs post-Brexit”

Carl Reader, author and director of d& t chartered accountants: 

“I believe that May will stick to supporting business, as it is the cornerstone of the Conservative grass roots support. My hope would be for her to continue making Corporation Tax as competitive as possible, and to replace the Dividend Tax with something that penalises tax-driven incorporation, yet rewards those who create jobs and take the risks to make their business successful.

“Also, given the Brexit negotiations, I’d like to see her consider the needs of small business, by reducing the obligation to adhere to onerous new EU legislation, and by providing support to the banks to help continue servicing the funding requirements of start-ups and small businesses.”

The dissenting view: “May could be catastrophic to entrepreneurial culture”

Audrey McNaughton of McNaughton MacGregor:

“Steely, tough cookie, single minded, decisive – all words used about Theresa May. They have an appeal of course in the current revolutionary mood but to build an entrepreneurial culture across all parts of the country they will be catastrophic in the leadership.

“It will be mandatory for her to say she’s on the side of start-ups but I predict her version will be a return to the old party view that enterprise will just happen when people with the wherewithal take advantage of market opportunities  rather than it being linked to social change and raising aspirations of communities.

“Intelligent funding and resources to support businesses at all stages of scale up are crucial especially when this can be finessed at the local level by the devolved regions. That work needs to continue and be accelerated.”

Are you a start-up or small business owner? Let us know your thoughts on Theresa May becoming prime minister in the comment box below or Tweet us @startupstowers


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