There was mixed reaction from business leaders when Theresa May unexpectedly called an election in June.
In the short term there will clearly be greater uncertainty. While May’s victory seems all-but inevitable there is always a chance of an upset. A shock rise in support for the Lib Dems or an unlikely upturn for Corbyn in the TV debates could deny the Conservatives a stable majority. The risk of such a surprise could delay investments and slow down the economy.
“Many business communities will understandably be concerned that attention will inevitably shift from the economy and the intricacies of leaving the EU to a potential election campaign. Firms will want to be reassured that the key challenges facing the economy will be front and centre throughout any election period”
Adam Marshall British Chambers of Commerce director general
'Businesses are having to get used to being buffeted by the changing winds of politics at the moment, and will just have to endure yet another campaign. While Brexit will inevitably dominate the campaign, there are also much wider questions that need to be addressed on the changing nature of business and work, automation and our ageing society,'
Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors
“Firms will want to hear commitments from all parties to work in close partnership with business and back a new industrial strategy to make the UK economy the most competitive in the world by 2030.
It is essential to get the UK’s foundations right, from building a skills base for the next generation, to investing in infrastructure, energy and delivering a pro-enterprise tax environment.
As EU negotiations now get underway, firms are clear about the serious risks of failing to secure a deal and falling into World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. It is vital that negotiators secure some early wins and all parties should commit to working to ensure businesses can continue to trade easily with our EU neighbours, while seeking new opportunities around the world.
Distraction from the urgent priorities of seeking the best EU deal and improving UK productivity must be kept to a minimum.”
Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General
But in the longer term an election could be a benefit. The current situation, in which a handful of Tory MPs could scupper May’s plans, is arguably good for democracy but bad for stability. May will now have to lay out her plans for the future in greater detail – not just on Brexit but on her ‘industrial strategy’ and other business policies on which she is yet to set out a position. She will have to spell out the Brexit stance on immigration and trade for instance. The prospect of leaving the EU with no deal on the table at all seems less likely than before.
“May's move should result in a larger and more stable majority in parliament, thereby reducing the likelihood of a so-called 'hard Brexit. We have been structurally negative on sterling for the last two years but are now changing view. The announcement of a snap general election on June 8 is a game-changer for both the UK's Brexit negotiations and sterling,"
Deutsche Bank currency analysts
“My feeling is that the City expects she will win with a bigger majority. If she does, she will go into Brexit in a stronger position. So if anything this clears up uncertainty which the City is always in favour of. “
Peter Cruddas CMC Markets founder and former Conservative Party treasurer
Businesses, lobby groups and, of course, private citizens have a chance to make the case for a soft Brexit both during the campaign and after it, during the long months of negotiation to follow.