Election bubble, toil and trouble

One of the things I’m consistently told is that businesses don’t like uncertainty.

Well, after an independence referendum in Scotland in 2014, a General Election in 2015, a referendum on EU membership in 2016 and another General Election this year, are things any more certain today than they were in 2013?

I would argue no, but I’m sure we’re going to see pages of detailed analysis over the coming weeks as to what the potential new look Tory-Democratic Ulster Party (DUP) coalition Government is going to look like, how it’ll work, and what it’ll mean for the wider economy and for Brexit. One thing I suspect there will be a degree of uniformity on is the perception that this wasn’t exactly the result Theresa May was looking for, but beyond that there are all sorts of questions that will be asked.

This uncertainty is reflected in the lack of press releases I’ve received so far. Writing the afternoon after the election, I’ve so far only received one release commenting on the result – which itself was mostly talking about uncertainty. In contrast, normally after a national event I receive dozens of comments and opinions, explaining how the author thinks such and such event is going to affect the industry. Clearly people are still trying to decide what it means – which again points to a lack of certainty.  

What it means

What all this means for the motor and motor finance industry is hard to say. The fact it looks like the Conservative party will hold onto power via a coalition suggests we’re less likely to see an about shift in policy compared to if, say, a Labour led coalition had won the day. This probably means the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will continue to operate as it has, Senior Managers Regime and all. Bills like the draft Air Quality Plan are likely to continue to progress through the houses, and we’ll likely see continued government support for the uptake of electric vehicles and autonomous technology research.

But beyond that, it’s hard to escape the feeling that these remain uncertain times. Brexit is the perfect example of this. Under the Tory majority, it was looking increasingly likely we’d be facing a hard Brexit, however the DUP – with an eye on the Irish border – has campaigned for a softer version. Which version will win out is anyone’s guess at this point.

Even beyond that, this coalition boasts a majority of just two. This means it would take just two MPs to vote against a piece of legislation to potentially derail it. In these circumstances, how can business be confident of the future?

All of which leads to the potential for another election sooner rather than later, or perhaps even another referendum on leaving the EU in the future.