Political uncertainty for business

By Adam Wood

9th June 2017

“Theresa May, who just a few weeks ago was likened to Margaret Thatcher, Boudicca, and Jesus, rolled the dice and they fell off the croupier’s table, tumbled on to the floor and went straight up the cleaner’s vacuum, along with several ministers.”Matt Chorley, Red Box Editor

So, we have a hung parliament. At the time of writing, we’re still waiting to see what coalition can be formed, as negotiators for the Conservatives and Labour get to work today. It took five days to put the coalition together in 2010 but the consensus this time round is that it could take longer.

From the moment the exit polls were announced last week, uncertainty around the lack of a Tory majority led to disruption in the financial markets, Brexity questions from Continental Europe and no doubt some soul-searching from voters.

Whilst the FTSE 100 opened higher than expected (climbing more than 1%), business leaders will not be enjoying this uncertainty. The tech sector, in particular, has been heavily involved (whether it wanted to be or not) in the campaign period, facing scrutiny both in how specific tools are used by political parties and in what the short-term outlook would be depending on which party came to power.

Wired had a great breakdown of what each party’s manifesto had to say on business, science and innovation, but a key talking point has been the stance towards encryption and online privacy during a time of heightened security concerns in the UK.

TechUK, which represents 700,000 technology professionals across 900 organisations, launched its own manifesto which had some stern words regarding government attitudes towards encryption, claiming they were ‘misguided and would significantly undermine encryption… The new government should unambiguously commit to protecting encryption.”

The issue we now face is whether the government will heed this advice.

This is all kicking off slap bang in the middle of London Tech Week, when conversations and events that were looking to centre around the impact of Brexit on the sector might shift towards current political manoeuvring.

Uncertainty will continue over the next few days – and possibly weeks – as to what is going to happen to the UK government. As always, there are a number of issues that need to be dealt with right away by whoever comes to wield power, but for the meantime everyone is simply going to have to wait and see what policies might get shifted or culled as various negotiations start.