December 13, 2019 @ 16:05 by Richard Dawson
Voters across the country have endorsed Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party in the general election with a clear majority to fulfil his campaign message to get Brexit done.
In an unpredictable contest, the exit poll sent shockwaves throughout the nation, with few expecting a Tory majority on this scale.
The night made bad reading for the Labour Party, which had its worst election result since 1935. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour returned even fewer MPs than Michael Foot in 1983, who managed 209.
What’s clear is that Britain’s departure from the EU will almost certainly happen on January 31. Boris Johnson will then have the job of negotiating a free trade agreement with European partners as well as putting legislation through Parliament to realise some of his campaign promises.
Meanwhile, a resurgent Scottish National Party might look to push for a second referendum on independence in the coming months.
Business leaders from across the North East and beyond give their reaction.
James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East England Chamber of Commerce, said he looks forward to working constructively with the Prime Minister and hopes that businesses will get the stability and certainty they need.
He said: “Brexit is the number one challenge facing the Government and we continue to be steadfast in our view that a No Deal situation must be avoided at all costs.
“The Prime Minister must now listen to the views of businesses across the country and work to secure a Brexit outcome that preserves our strong trading relationship with the EU, and which does not harm our economic competitiveness.”
The CBI’s director general, Carolyn Fairbairn, stressed the need to rebuild business confidence.
She said: “Employers share the Prime Minister’s optimism for the UK and are ready to play a leading role. They can bring the innovation, investment and jobs for a new era of inclusive growth.
“The biggest issues of our times – from tackling climate change to reskilling the workforce for new technologies – can only be delivered through real partnership between government and business.
“The starting point must be rebuilding business confidence, and early reassurance on Brexit will be vital.”
Guy Harrington, CEO of Glenhawk, highlighted the opportunities of getting Brexit done for the property market.
“Finally, some light at the end of the Brexit tunnel”, he said. “This result, coupled with finally leaving the EU in January, is the tonic the real estate market’s been waiting for. Expect improved liquidity, greater transaction volumes, a stronger pound and a bounce in the housing market, all of which will benefit lenders, investors and developers alike.”
John Savage, managing director of South Tyneside-based Flame Heating Group, said he would like to see the Conservative Party keep to its pledge of encouraging entrepreneurs and innovation, tackling the skills gap and creating a fairer taxation system.
Chris McDonald, chief executive of Teesside-based Materials Processing Institute, said that the 2019 election had at least seen all the main political parties agree on one thing – the need to develop a green net-zero emissions economy.
Jamie Johnson, CEO of FJP Investment, discussed how the election result had provoked significant movement on the financial markets and stressed that the Conservative majority would provide the clarity that investors sought after.