What could a snap election mean for UK construction?

Julia Evans

Julia Evans

Yesterday Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans to hold a snap general election on June 8, citing a lack of unity within Parliament following the result of the EU Referendum.

In a televised address outside Downing Street she said that “The country is coming together but Westminster is not,” and that a snap general election would provide much-needed certainty, stability and leadership as the UK takes its departure from the European Union.

While the plans are still subject to a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday, April 19, there is already talk across all parties and within the industry about what a new Government could mean for the construction sector as the country begins to negotiate its departure from the European Union.

All in the industry will be hoping for a manifesto that pledges to ensure the country has the strongest possible links to the European Single Market possible whilst also guaranteeing that enough migrant workers are entering the country to help plug the skills gap that the industry faces.

Commenting on the announcement, Julia Evans, chief executive of BSRIA, said: “The specific benefits for the construction industry remain to be seen, but it will allow the most wonderful platform for the Prime Minister to lay out her strategy to the electorate. It will be a strategy that will not be debated in parliament – as it properly should be – but it will be played out at the political hustings in the coming seven weeks.

“There has been much chaos and mixed-messages surrounding Brexit since June last year so we trust this announcement will bring much-needed clarity and order in the Brexit debate and beyond.”

Mike Wharton, head of membership at the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments (CISI), commented: “The Prime Minister’s intention to gain an increase in moral authority over Brexit talks had the immediate effect of a positive bump for the Pound. Both business and consumer confidence could benefit from a significant increase in Conservative majority, though Brexit terms are still likely to be dictated by the remaining nations of the EU. Significant uncertainty surrounds forthcoming elections in Europe and the unpredictable nature of US Government policy may give the Pound further strength. Within the built environment supply chain, Sterling strength would be a benefit to those firms which import finished product or raw materials from overseas and their contractor buyers; it could also give consumers more bang for their buck whilst keeping inflation under control. If the Pound continues to strengthen, that could also be a plus in terms of keeping borrowing costs low – all positives for the domestic construction industry in terms of confidence.  There is no question though, volatility will be the watch word not just in the run up to the June General Election, but for the next few years.”