'Another election within a year' - Chamber chief's take on General Election 2017

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 9 Jun 2017

‚ÄčANOTHER election inside a year and coming to terms with wading through further uncertainty – that was the take from a leading figure in the business community, following the hung parliament result.

Dr Ian Kelly, chief executive of Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, also suggested David Davis (Cons, Haltemprice and Howden) could even see himself elevated from Brexit discussion leader to Conservative leader in due course. 

Dr Kelly, a long-serving lobbyist credited with keeping the Humber economic area together with the formation of a local enterprise partnership six years ago, said: “A fog on the Humber would be a good description of the political scene. It does bring uncertainty for business. With the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)  likely to for the short term keep the Conservatives afloat, at least there should be some stability but clearly little strength for any meaningful agenda affecting business.

“I think there will be another election by the end of the year, which will add to the uncertainty. I don’t see how the current arrangement could last more than a matter of months.

“My instinct is Theresa May will struggle to lead into the next election having lost a 20 point lead when no election was required, which may open the door locally.”

MORE: Our guide ot the reshuffle and ministerial appointments

Looking closer locally, where status quo was the situation in every seat, the Grimsby-born chief said: “We have has a reinforcement of the two major parties. On the South Bank, all four MPs are well respected in terms of local commitment and I think the business community welcomes their continued contribution to local business success, particularly with offshore wind.

“It may be important for the transport and Northern Powerhouse agendas, and it brings opportunities for the area with such a marginal position.”

Melanie Onn was returned to Grimsby for Labour in the narrowest margin of the night, a fraction over 2,500 votes clear of Jo Gideon, so too Nic Dakin in Scunthorpe and Karl Turner and Diana Johnson in Hull East and North respectively. Emma Hardy, also Labour, won in Alan Johnson's vacated seat of Hull West and Hessle after the veteran called time on a celebrated Westminster career.

For the Conservatives in the Humber, Graham Stuart and Mr Davis held the seats of Beverley and Haltemprice & Howden, as 'You Tube sensation' Greg Knight held East Yorkshire, while Andrew Percy, Northern Powerhouse Minister was returned for Brigg and Goole and Martin Vickers strolled Cleethorpes.  

A big feature was the turnout level, with many having anticipated fewer, notably more votes were cast than 2015.

On Brexit, a big watch with the Humber a gateway to Europe for cars, food and chemicals, Dr Kelly said: “The style of the negotiation may change but I don’t sense that there will be any challenges against Brexit protocol, looking at the Liberal vote as the only political party to suggest it.” 

Nationally, and 'friends' of the area's business community experienced a mixed night. Former Yorkshire and Humber Minister Rosie Winterton was an early return in Doncaster for Labour, and while one-time Business Secretary Vince Cable - a key figure in the first Tata Steel fund structuring - won in Twickenham for the Liberal Democrats. Former Energy Secretary and wind ambassador Ed Davey won back his 1997 to 2015 seat from the Conservatives in Kingston and Surbiton. An advocate of the Humber's progress, he brought then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to Grimsby in 2013 to open the Lincs Wind Farm. His fellow guest that day was blown away in his Sheffield constituency as the hangover from the Cameron-Clegg coalition finally caught up with him.

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark - who signed off the Hull and Humber City Deal - was returned in Tunbridge Wells for the Conservatives, with Energy Minister Nick Hurd receiving the same backing in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner.

Fisheries Minister George Eustice retained his Conservative seat in Camborne and Redruth.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “With a new Government, there has never been a more important time to refocus on the economy and plan with confidence and ambition. The next Government needs to deliver an open, competitive and fair post-Brexit economy that works for everyone across all our nations and regions.

“This can only be achieved if the next government doesn’t put the brakes on business, remains open to the world and sets out a pro-enterprise vision.

“We need to move much faster to fix the foundations of the UK economy and our productivity problem. We need meaningful progress on a modern industrial strategy by the end of the year, with real change on the ground on skills, infrastructure and innovation. 

“With only ten days before Brexit talks begin, the UK needs to be fast out of the blocks. Agreeing transition arrangements and guaranteeing EU citizens’ rights should be early priorities to get the talks off to a good start and show to the world that trade and people come first.

“Firms will support the UK develop our inclusive, innovative and open economy. More than ever, the new Government must work together with business to make the most of the opportunities ahead. Firms can provide the evidence, ideas and solutions from the shop, office and factory floor to secure our future prosperity.”  

The Federation of Small Businesses is calling for political stability and a delay to the beginning of Brexit talks in the wake of the result.

National chairman Mike Cherry said: “In the coming hours and days, business needs immediate reassurance from the government that emerges about how it will protect the economy from any political turmoil. The UK must be seen to remain open for business, with a government committed to supporting enterprise.

“It is important to go into the Brexit talks from a position of strength, focused on getting the best deal possible for trade and access to workers and skills. 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.

“In the days ahead, FSB members will want to see ministers appointed and a clear timetable for the coming weeks. We are ready to work with the Government and all parties on what measures to bring forward.

“FSB secured a number of important commitments for small business in many of the party manifestos in this election, and we believe there will be strong support in the new Parliament for many of our asks - on business rates reform, on protecting the self-employed from unfair tax rises, and on tackling late payments by big companies to their small business suppliers.

“FSB has consistently engaged with major parties right across the political spectrum and will work positively and constructively with the Government that emerges, and MPs and Peers across all parties.”

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