Mixed reactions to General Election announcement

UK business groups have expressed mixed reactions to Theresa May’s plans to hold a snap General Election on 8 June.

Some business leaders have welcomed the announcement, believing that a Conservative win could see the Prime Minister increase her majority and thus enter Brexit talks in a much stronger position.

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the manufacturing group EEF, commented: ‘We have significant negotiations to undertake with our partners in the rest of Europe and doing this with a fresh and stable mandate from the country can only provide greater certainty about the future direction of travel for policy.’

However, others have warned that the move could distract from Brexit negotiations and other issues of concern to businesses.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director General, said: ‘With a snap General Election now called, businesses will be looking to each political party to set out their plans to support economic stability and prosperity over the next Parliament in a way that is fair and sustainable for communities across the UK.

‘Distraction from the urgent priorities of seeking the best EU deal and improving UK productivity must be kept to a minimum.’

Meanwhile, Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, commented: ‘Businesses are having to get used to being buffeted by the changing winds of politics at the moment, and will just have to endure yet another campaign.

‘While Brexit will inevitably dominate the campaign, there are also much wider questions that need to be addressed on the changing nature of business and work, automation and our ageing society,’ he added.

Following Theresa May’s surprise announcement, the pound soared to a six-month high of 2.37% to $1.2904 against the dollar.

However, the FTSE 100 share index fell by 180 points, or 2.5%, to 7,148, wiping almost £46 billion from the value of Britain’s biggest blue-chip companies.