UK Post-Election Brief
British Politics is going through an uncertain period. Britain faces multiple challenges in the coming months, all of which could shift the business and political climate.
1. Both of the main parties are signalling agreement that Britain will no longer be a part of the Single Market after Brexit negotiations. This means that Britain is prepared to enter Brexit negotiations with the outcome being tariffs, diminished freedom of movement and restrictions on the flow of capital.
For financial institutions the Single Market is important as it provides them with the Financial Passports that allow them to trade across the EU without needing a base in every country. It is currently uncertain what would happen to the City of London should Britain leave the EU.
However, getting a Brexit Bill passed that excludes EU Single Market Access will be challenging in a parliament still dominated of Remainers.
2. Some Conservatives are signalling that Austerity is at an end. This means that cuts to public services could halt. Whether the Tories will make up for this spending increase via tax rises or by borrowing more remains to be seen. This plan could be affected by an expected recession, increasing inflation and potentially a very large EU divorce bill.
At present, it is difficult to speculate where the Conservatives will spend. Will it be on infrastructure? Public Sector wages? Health care?
3. The Conservatives look likely to engage with the Northern Irish DUP to form a Confidence and Supply Pact. In amongst their policy portfolio, the DUP hold several socially conservative views that are seen to impact on women’s rights . However, they are radical in their approach to healthcare – aggressively seeking the digitisation of certain health services as a way of improving social care outcomes and freeing up hospital bed spaces.
If they can’t agree a deal by the ratification date of the new government on the 27th, the Tories may try and rule as a single minority party of government. If this is rejected by the Queen or they fail to pass a budget, Labour will be given 14 days to form a new government. Should Labour also fail to pass a budget and Queen’s Speech, then there will be another snap election.
4. Britain is divided by generations; with age and not class, now the biggest determinant in how the electorate will vote.
The increased voter turnout means that there is likely to be a rethinking on how and for whom manifestos are structured. Previously, with a smaller electorate, parties targeted those who voted – age 25+.
It would be simplistic to conclude that these new young voters care about healthcare less because of their age. 49% of 18-24 year olds think that health is a key issue facing the country, 58% of older people agree with them. Both groups clearly think health care is important, they have different priorities however. Young people value increased initiatives around mental health, and as we learned during the recent campaign the elderly are more concerned with issues surrounding social care.
With a new and younger electorate with their added demands, how will parties seek to develop programmes that aim to please competing groups of citizens without descending in to populism?
Babatunde Williams is a Senior Account Manager with JPA Health Communications in our UK office.