THE county’s business leaders have described the election result as a ‘mandate for chaos’ and urged Theresa May to prioritise enterprise.
Jo James, Chief Executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, said delivering a smooth, comprehensive Brexit deal that recognises the need for a strong economy ‘is vital’ in the wake of Thursday’s general election.
Ms James added: “The UK electorate has accomplished the unlikely feat of piling more uncertainty on business communities already grappling with currency fluctuations, high up-front costs, and the Brexit process.
“The formation of a stable administration that can give voters and businesses confidence around both economic management and Brexit negotiations must be the absolute top priority.”
Securing the best possible Brexit deal will be of little value if contradictory economic policies, widespread intervention and arbitrary immigration restrictions, stifle investment and confidence, she said, adding: “the anti-business tone that characterised the election campaign must be consigned to history, with a more mature and practical dialogue taking its place.”
Richard Philbin, Chief Executive of based asset managers Wellian Investment Solutions said his firm is expecting all asset classes to ‘react negatively to a hung parliament’, adding: “Uncertainty will be the watchword of the coming period and it is hard to see a solution that gets us out of uncertainty.
“There are already questions being raised about Mrs May’s position as leader of the Conservatives and this is unlikely to go away whilst she remains.”
Mr Philbin said the current situation does suggest plans for a ‘hard Brexit’ may be watered down.
Gary Jefferies, Managing Director of Panoramic Wealth Management said: “A second of three elections resulting in a minority government demonstrates that the British political landscape is in a state of flux. This is coupled with a Brexit result also portraying a very divided nation.
“This time round many younger voters have voted against the incumbent party creating an outcome of a mandate for chaos whist impacting awkwardly on the Brexit withdrawal with that many older voters had desired.”
If the government is successful in surviving without another general election then a period of moderation and prolonged internal negotiations on our terms for Brexit should be expected, he added.
The managing director of Capital Currencies, Craig Strong said: “Just when the Country and the markets were looking for greater stability and direction, the 2017 UK General Election delivered a hung parliament.
“The City doesn’t like uncertainty, nor Labour governments, so we will most probably witness more short term pressure on sterling until some calm and leadership can be had, in whatever form of government.”
Pam Beith, Head of Brooks Macdonald’s Tunbridge Wells office, believes it was ‘unlikely’ a Conservative/DUP tie up would be very resilient and a that it would be ‘no surprise’ if the Prime Minister faces a vote of no confidence.
She added: “In time, declining sentiment could translate to weaker economic performance if it causes large multinational businesses to reduce their UK investment or move their operations abroad.”
Commercial property consultant Amal Uddin said: “Businesses are reacting differently in different parts of the country. The City has seen a range of reactions, but locally, here in Tunbridge Wells, it is fair to say businesses remain cautious. Local challenges and issues are a high area of priority and concern. The property market in many ways has been keeping a positive perspective – commercial properties continue to perform well and growth has been steady.
“What we really do need now is some real stability. PM May needs to move forward with the necessary steps to negotiate with the EU and others in line with Brexit. The dust will need to settle quickly and a period of calms needs to take immediate effect. Calls for a leadership election would be unhelpful as would be the persistent difficulties presented by the opposition party.”