The general election on the 8th June was widely described as one that could define the country for decades to come, so it goes without saying that many supply chain consultants kept a close eye on the policies outlined in the various party manifestos. Here we take a look at those policies and explore some of the potential implications for retailers up and down the UK.
Brexit and immigration continued to dominate debate
The UK’s impending departure from the European Union was always going to be a central issue in this election, and the Conservatives have made much of the “strong and stable” approach they hope to take to Brexit negotiations, which the party has said will “deliver the best deal”. It added that although “we will no longer be members of the single market or customs union, we will seek a deep and special partnership including comprehensive free trade and customs agreement.”
Labour, unsurprisingly, placed the emphasis on jobs and living standards for its proposed Brexit negotiations. The party pledged to immediately guarantee rights for all EU nationals living in Britain, and also wished to retain the benefits of the single market and customs union.
The subject of Brexit is, of course, inextricably bound with that of immigration, with the Conservatives declaring that they will “always ensure” the ability of British firms to “recruit the brightest and best from around the world”. However, the party has vowed once more to cut net migration to “tens of thousands”, in contrast to Labour’s proposal to prioritise growth and jobs over “bogus immigration targets”.
But there were also many other issues of pressing concern
Elsewhere in the manifestos, many pledges were made of relevance to such matters as consumer confidence and spending and business rates.
On the subject of the latter, the Tories have said that they would “conduct a full review of the business rates system to make sure it is up to date for a world in which people increasingly shop online.” Labour proposed reforms to business rates such as switching rates calculations from the RPI to the CPI, while the Lib Dems also proposed a review of business rates, focusing on “reforms that recognise the development of the digital economy”.
Indeed, there was an emphasis throughout the party manifestos on backing digital, such as the plans by both the Tories and Labour to maximise access to high-speed broadband.
A critically important election for retailers
As the details of the Conservative legislative programme to be revealed in the up and coming Queens speech unfold, retailers across the UK are looking closely at the implications for GDP and consumer confidence. Those retailers already making plans to protect their supply chain from changes in immigration policy and Brexit-related trade negotiations will certainly be in a stronger position to weather any choppy waters that may arise.