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Election reaction: Business impact

Monday 8 May 2017

UNIVERSITY of Salford business experts react to the election of Andy Burnham as Manchester’s first metro Mayor and Conservative success in the local elections.

Dr Muhammad Amjad, expert in International Strategy, University of Salford Business School said: “The local elections have shown the calculated move by the Tories has paid big dividends. The further marginalization of Labour, wiping out nationalists and dampening the SNP in the Scottish lands are some of the key gains.

“It is an important time in the overall tightening of grip on power across the country before general elections and ongoing Brexit negotiations. This should improve the business confidence in the country as voters have paved the way for one party and majority politics. Clearly, the mayoral wins in Manchester and Liverpool are important face savings for Labour but business sentiment in banking, trade and higher education sector will continue to be cautious. The signs of reaching an amicable settlement for Brexit deals are diminishing and increasingly dramatic dynamic is likely to emerge in the run up to the General Election.

“Tax increases, less funding for NHS, tightening of immigration from EU and elsewhere, are challenging issues but the UK voters are shaping up for more stable, singular vision, strong central and local government policies. British businesses are already working out trade possibilities beyond the UK and these local election results will give further impetus in that direction. It is clear that the UK public is pushing for stronger and stable leadership - no pun intended - more autonomy to set British policies, and control over spending.”

And Dr Gordon Fletcher, business and retail expert, said: “Andy Burnham's election as Greater Manchester's first elected mayor unsurprisingly went against the tide of Tory victories across the England. But it is a victory that brings its own complexities. The push for devolution and local responsibility for key budgets was a cornerstone policy of the former Chancellor George Osborne. With the demolition of smaller parties but especially UKIP in this round of elections the political alignment of local councils with parliamentary control appears to offer little autonomy for Burnham's newly won control. 

“Tory victories at a local level has seen many pundits arguing that this result now secures Teresa May's own success in the upcoming election. However, politics is a dynamic stage and Le Pen's defeat in France on Sunday could have an impact to our June election. The EU will not be burdened with dual exit negotiations and will now be able to continue the tougher stance it has already adopted with May.

“With two sets of elections only a month apart and after a parliamentary election and referendum last year there is also the real prospect of election fatigue that will see turnout move downwards from what was around 30% this time in most authority areas. The further complexity is that while some will vote at every opportunity others choose to exercise their democratic right much more selectively. In either event, Thursday result shows just how far the opposition parties will have to go to convince a nervous - and potentially jaded - electorate that they are offer a viable alternative.”

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Sam Wood

0161 295 5361