Walpole CEO Comment | Election 2019: A Clear Path Ahead?

“Walpole members will welcome an end to the uncertainty of the last three years and historically a Conservative government has offered the conditions in which British luxury thrives, but we remain concerned about the timetable for the negotiation of the UK/EU trade relationship. Completing something that works hard for the high end sector in just 11 months from the 31st January withdrawal will be challenging. For British luxury businesses with deep supply chains through europe, the devil will be in the detail of that trading agreement.”

Walpole CEO, Helen Brocklebank

As I write, the election exit poll predicts the biggest Conservative majority since 1987, giving Mr Johnson a clear mandate for his commitment to take the UK out of the EU on 31st January.

In a country understandably fed up with three years of uncertainty and division, Mr Johnson’s ‘Get Brexit Done’ rallying cry has landed well, and with a sizeable parliamentary majority, the EU Withdrawal Agreement will now pass without further delay.

With the biggest Tory majority since 1987, Mr Johnson is also now free to push through whatever kind of future relationship he negotiates with the EU. Whether he opts for a basic trade agreement and pivots the economy towards America and Asia or chooses to forge a much closer trading relationship with the EU remains to be seen, but the comfortable majority ensures that he has the license to choose.

Nevertheless, Mr Johnson has previously ruled out extending the transition period beyond December 2020 and the timetable for negotiating the future UK/EU trading relationship remains extremely tight, and so the optimism British luxury businesses may feel at having a majority government will inevitably be tempered by caution. After all, the EU represents 42% of British luxury exports, and supply chains are heavily integrated across Europe.

As a reminder, the key business-relevant manifesto pledges that the Conservatives made were:
Australian-style points-based immigration controls
Heavy investment in science, schools, apprenticeships and infrastructure
Reaching Net Zero by 2050 with investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and pollution
No increase to income tax, VAT or National Insurance
Mentioned at the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) conference but not included in the manifesto:
Corporation tax to remain at 19% for now (vs. the Labour intention to increase to 26%) with a further reduction to 18% in April 2020

This is a live story and will be updated in due course.

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