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Let’s Get Back to Brexit after Underwhelming Local Elections, says Business Leader

By Jo Sellick, Managing Director, Sellick Partnership

“The first broad gauge of political opinion since the 2017 general election has taken place and the results of the local elections are in. It is fair to say the British public is pretty apathetic about the two leading parties, with neither the Conservatives nor Labour making huge gains. Of course, the leaders of both parties are claiming victory, with Theresa May pleased to have clung on to her slim majority in government; while Jeremy Corbyn is focussing on the ground his party has gained around the UK, including Trafford in Greater Manchester. But the real message of the results is that the British public is clearly starting to look elsewhere, with the Liberal Democrats, Green and other minority parties faring well.

This is unsurprising given the scandals that have hit the Tories and Labour during the weeks and months leading up to the elections. Nobody can ignore the controversy around the Windrush revelations that led to the recent resignation of Home Secretary Amber Rudd. At the same time, Corbyn is still battling against claims that anti-semitism exists within the party traditionally viewed as inclusive for all members of society. These scandals have clearly deterred voters who might have otherwise pledged their support for one of the two main parties, but who have instead looked to less controversial alternatives.

As a Lib Dem voter, I am encouraged to see the party has gained ground again across the UK. Nobody can deny the challenging times they have faced since leaving the coalition government, but if they can harness this newfound support they stand a real chance of yet again becoming a valid alternative to the two major forces in government. Their stance on Brexit may well have helped this recent rise in popularity, as they have been strong in speaking out against decisions made by May, and continue to push for a final public vote on Brexit. Corbyn, on the other hand, has continued to show his support for Brexit, which has arguably damaged the party as a whole.

With the local elections largely maintaining the political status quo, we should turn our attentions back to Brexit and push the government to continue its negotiations as soon as possible. The power currently remains very much with Europe and I have very little confidence that May can deliver what the UK public voted for. Myself and other business leaders need more reassurance from our Prime Minister about exactly how our economy will look once we leave the EU, and what sort of trading relationship we will have with our neighbouring countries. This is especially important for those businesses dealing with imports and exports, who are currently in limbo and will struggle to make long-term growth plans while this uncertainty remains. Permanent recruitment efforts are likely to slow down as we await an outcome, with employers more willing to invest in short-term talent that poses less of a risk to their payroll. Those new MPs who have just been elected into their positions have an incredibly important role to play in maintaining pressure on the Prime Minister to keep negotiations flowing and achieve the best possible outcome for our country.”