Firstly, I would like to offer my personal congratulations to Cheltenham MP, Alex Chalk. His contributions to the Cheltenham community over the years has been outstanding.
Looking at the business community in Gloucestershire and the UK, it goes without saying that it’s too early to tell what might happen without knowing what government will be formed, but in all likelihood, we can expect a Conservative-led coalition, probably backed by the Democratic Unionist Party. What this means is a period of continued uncertainty, but what comes next?
It’s possible there will be another election, although this would probably cause yet more uncertainty and further damage the UK economy. Perhaps a new Conservative leader (and if so who?) but again, this would result in a power struggle when it is needed least, so hopefully neither of these eventualities will come to pass.
What we do know, is that currency markets don’t like uncertainty, so we can expect the pound to drop further, having already lost ground against the Euro and Dollar. It is expected to bounce back somewhat, but will stay low for the short term. This is good news for the county’s exporters, but bad for its importers and is definitely not great for inflation.
Taking a medium-term view, if no further election is called before Brexit, then we will probably face a softer Brexit than we otherwise might have, as any exit deal will have to be passed by a “coalition of interest”. If the deal requires support from the ‘left of centre’ parties, it may be a better and more balanced result in the longer term.
Theresa May has effectively demonstrated the difference between management and leadership; she has been a good manager, but I’m not sure that sure that she has fulfilled the role of a leader in the past weeks and months as well as the night.
It is too early to categorically say what impact the recent terrorist acts had on the final outcome, but I think Mrs May will come to regret not appearing in the televised debate. When Jeremy Corbyn announced he would take part, she should have followed suit.
She now knows first-hand that there is truth to the adage: you must have a plan, but no plan survives the first contact with the enemy.
Will the result affect a lot of business in the UK immediately? Probably not immediately, and doing more U-turns than a cheap satnav in a one way system doesn’t appear to be the answer, but the continued and now greater uncertainty for Brexit may well as it leads to the delaying of decisions, delaying of investments and transactions and of course potential inflationary pressure.
All-in-all, for the second time in a year, we face a problem no-one needed to have.
If there’s one bright light, it is that the UK is probably now stronger, with the fall back of the SNP vote and (probably) increased political links between the Tories and the DUP.