Business groups have urged politicians to act quickly to provide economic stability in the wake of the shock election result, as Britain heads towards the uncertainty of a hung parliament with Brexit talks looming.
Confederation of British Industry director general Carolyn Fairbairn warned that this is a “serious moment” for the UK economy and politicians must “get their house in order and form a functioning government, reassure the markets and protect our resilient economy”.
”Politicians must act responsibly, putting the interests of the country first and showing the world that the UK remains a safe destination for business. It's time to put the economy back to the top of the agenda,” she said.
The British Chambers of Commerce struck a similar tone, with director general Adam Marshall saying: “After two long years of elections, referenda and wider uncertainty, many businesses were doing their best to ignore the noise of politics – up until today.
He added: ”The electorate's split decision generates further uncertainty for business communities, who are already grappling with currency fluctuations, rising costs, and the potential impacts of Brexit.
“The formation of a workable administration that can give voters and businesses confidence around economic management must be the immediate priority. Businesses are adept at forming alliances and coalitions when important interests are at stake. We should expect the same of our politicians.“
Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, said businesses had “been thrown into political limbo”, by the result. ”With crucial Brexit negotiations coming up fast, in addition to the significant domestic challenges we face, the lack of a government with a majority undeniably creates uncertainty,” he said. “The majority of British business will be waiting to see whether a stable government can be formed in short order.
”If the Conservatives govern as a minority, they must recognise that they have not earned a mandate to implement their manifesto in full.
“Now is the time to move on from the rhetoric of the election campaign and focus on preparing for Brexit talks. The issues of access to EU markets and the need for skilled workers are still paramount, and Brussels will be keen to get negotiations underway soon.“
The Federation of Small Businesses urged more caution, saying that Brexit talks should be postponed.
FSB chairman Mike Cherry said: “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.”
Robert Gordon, chief executive of of Hitachi Capital UK put forward a more positive view: “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.”
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