First Brexit now this. Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for a mandate seriously backfired – here’s what the UK tech industry thinks of the results the morning after the night before.
When it comes to gambles – Prime Minister Theresa May took a big one…and lost. The morning after the night before and the UK faces uncertainty yet again – something which Brits should be familiar with following Brexit.
The PM wanted a mandate for Brexit so called a surprise snap election, entering into the election race with a clear majority over opposition Labour. However, a disastrous campaign has led to where we are now with a hung parliament and an uncertain few weeks and months ahead.
Coalition of Chaos, a tie-up between the Tories and the Unionists in Northern Ireland – who knows. With so many what if’s, CBR reached out to those in UK tech to get their view on the election results and what it means to one of the core industries in the UK.
We Need A positive Vision To Fill Chasm of Uncertainty
Stephen Kelly, CEO, Sage:
“We may have been be glued to the news and watching the political twists and turns of the night unfold but I can guarantee that the nation’s small businesses will be got up early as usual to run their businesses. These are the heroes of the economy who create two thirds of all jobs, and will foot the bill for the fairytale policies our politicians have promised in their election campaigns. Now we need a positive vision for Britain with leadership and optimism to fill the chasm of uncertainty.
“I hope we will have a resolution very soon, and then, I would urge the next government – whatever form of government that emerges over the next few days – to put small businesses at the top of the agenda more than ever. We will be sending a letter with The Entrepreneurs Network, signed by over 70 British businesses, to our next leader outlining short-term, actionable policies, including continued deregulation and tax reform and support for Exporters.
“We hope this letter will be received by a Government determined to ensure the health of our businesses, and focused on good leadership to counter the continued instability. Let’s be very clear, when businesses do well, we all do.”
Big Thinking Needed for Rapid Global Digitisation
Julian David, techUK CEO:
“Decisions that will have to be taken over the next five years will shape the UK for generations to come. The new Parliament must come together to face the significant challenges not only of Brexit, but rapid global digitisation.
“To thrive the UK needs to be at the forefront of countries that are inventing the future, not just by leading in innovation and the use of new technologies, but by enabling the economy to adapt and people to flourish.
“This will require some big thinking and some bold policy making. It is vital that the UK remains an open and dynamic economy in which tech businesses of all sizes can be the engine of inclusive growth.”
Gov’t Needs To Elevate Importance of Digital Transformation
Chris Francis, Director, Government Relations at SAP:
“It’s encouraging to see digital innovation in all of the parties political manifestos, as digital transformation is an imperative building block for the government and for the economic community at large. As we see a greater global approach to the UK economy following the Brexit vote, it’s important that Britain is prepared for an increasingly connected and digital future.”
“Regardless of who forms the next government, they need to ensure that we remain competitive and increase productivity as a nation. We hope to see this government elevate the importance and urgency of digital transformation, both for public and private sector.
“In particular if the commitments to improve public procurement is achieved by using business-to-business platforms to break down the silos between public and private procurement, SAP calculates that for every pound the government saves in procurement could be a pound into the SME economy and, according to the ONS figures used by the NAO, improving the economic impact by 46%.
“For a move of £40bn, a mere proportion of central government spend over the next parliament, that means the Government could save an estimated £2.5bn and inject an additional £2.33bn into the SME economy and deliver £613m to the wider economy.”
An Error of Monumental Proportions
Chris McCullough, CEO and co-founder at RotaGeek
“The end results of this election mean that instead of focusing on the incoming Brexit negotiations, our politicians need to focus their attention on two fronts: Europe and the developing Constitutional crisis at home. ”
“The election was, apparently, called to strengthen the UK’s negotiating hand. Calling an election was, in retrospect, an error on monumental proportions, at a time when the UK needs to focus everything on making Brexit a success.
“It is unclear how negotiations can proceed without a Government in power. ”
Fintech Sector Will Not Take Election Results Kindly
Tim Focas, director of financial services at City think tank Parliament Street:
“May’s decision to abandon fiscal prudence and core free market principles has well and truly backfired. With so much uncertainty, the fintech sector will not take kindly to this result in the weeks ahead. The only person smiling this morning will be a certain Mr Macron in France, who has already been eying up taking fintech business way from London.
“Sadly, the one-time party of enterprise has, thanks to one of the most catastrophic campaigns in living memory, has just given Brussel’s a huge leg up in the renegotiations.
Focus Needs To Be On Digital Skills
Cloudreach’s Head of Europe Chris Bunch:
“As the new coalition is assembled in the days and weeks ahead, we urge them to focus on closing the digital skills gap, which is costing the economy £63 billion per year. Building a strong digital economy could lead to the UK thriving in the Brexit years.
“We try to reduce the skills gap by recruiting from a wide variety of backgrounds, including inspiring those in their first role to move into the world of cloud technology.
We hope the new government will think outside of traditional education to drive the UK’s digital economy to a world leading position.”
No Benefit For UK Tech
Emily Mackay, CEO, Crowdsurfer:
“Given that the whole purpose of the election was to give the PM a stronger mandate for Brexit negotiations, it is hard to see much benefit at all for the tech sector or the country as a whole. As an industry we rely so heavily on recruiting the best people, so it was important to ensure the UK remains attractive to highly-skilled workers from around the world. The uncertainty brought about by the election result is only going to make that harder.”
“In fact, technology and business issues mostly took a back seat during the campaigning for this election anyway, but what’s clear now is that the issues that would really make a difference – better access to finance, support for tech entrepreneurs in the form of tax breaks and pre-school childcare – will take even more of a back seat during what will inevitably be a period of huge uncertainty. Hopefully this uncertainty will be short-lived while a new government is formed, but more uncertainty and drag in the realising of economic benefits could be created by coalition parties who have differing views on how to support British business.”
A Soft Brexit?
Jessica Figueras, Chief Analyst at GlobalData Public Sector:
“Generally speaking, business doesn’t favour political uncertainty and the tech industry is no exception. When we polled our tech clients this week, 71% said that lack of clarity about the make-up of government made it harder to plan. So, those working with government will need to play it safe, avoiding big bets on political projects that may not come to pass.
“There’s clearly a live question over the implications for Brexit, with many speculating about a softer Brexit now that May has failed to achieve the mandate she was hoping for. Tech companies may be cheered by that prospect, since most were opposed to leaving the EU and particularly the single market. There’s plenty of work for tech firms that will continue regardless of politics. The government’s digital strategy is established and mainly uncontroversial.
“Government will continue to invest in digitisation, legacy renewal, cyber security, data management and analytics, amongst other things. And there’s increased appetite across the political spectrum for more investment in R&D, digital skills and communications infrastructure. That’s good for the tech industry – and the country as a whole, most importantly.”