What will a Theresa May government mean for UK business?
Business craves stability. Even disruptive startups need a stable economy to flourish in. That’s why Theresa May’s appointment as Prime Minister is welcome news for all businesses, regardless of their politics, compared to the alternative of months of uncertainty at the heart of the Tory party.
What we have instead (hopefully) is a far steadier and functioning government than many had expected to have at this stage. It’s a relief to see some semblance of normality return to the Government after weeks of upheaval and I’m optimistic to see what can be achieved.
There are plenty of immediate challenges for Mrs May to address - cabinet reshuffles, calls for an early election and opposition leadership contests to name a few. All that’s to come and is perhaps of secondary concern compared to the big issue concerning businesses right now - Brexit.
The dust is slowly settling after the referendum result and the long-term outlook for British business is still unclear. Many questions remain unanswered: when will Mrs May trigger Article 50, who will lead the British negotiating team, and who will be there to speak up for Britain's businesses, many of whom depend on strong trading relations with Europe for their survival. It's not even clear what Brexit will look like when we finally get there - will the deal we get satisfy the 'Out' camp, will it be 'Brexit lite' or ‘the death of Brexit by a thousand cuts’, as UKIP’s Aaron Banks recently warned?
Will the fears of the Remain camp prove to be unfounded after all, or is the UK like a cartoon character running off a cliff and continuing forwards, just waiting to fall? The answer to that question depends, in part, on the tone Mrs May sets for the negotiations, which need to begin as soon as possible. The new-look Government should act quickly to give an idea as to the direction of travel - Mrs May needs to make this her absolute priority as she moves into Number 10.
Business goes on, and for many companies, there's been little impact from Brexit yet. However, some industries are already seeing the ‘crystalising’ effects, as Mark Carney put it. Stabilising measures from the Government are urgently needed to avoid any contagion or a full-blown ‘DIY recession’.
Having a female Prime Minister is great news for business and should serve as further inspiration for women of all ages that they can achieve their full potential. To continue David Cameron's metaphor, the fact that ‘the captain of the ship’ is now a woman after a quarter of a century of male dominance is hugely significant. Within six months we could be in the unprecedented position of having women leading the UK's two largest parties and living in the White House too. Trickle-down equality to FTSE 100 boards and then the UK’s SMEs, will surely be the biggest long-term result of this new political landscape.
Chloe Webber is operations director for Company Check
Read the July EURO 2016 issue of Business Review Europe magazine.
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