Theresa May has announced a snap General Election to be held on 8 June 2017.
Following the vote in the House of Commons which came out 522 against 13 in support of a General Election, the country will go to the polls again on 8 June. In Making the announcement the Prime Minister said: "The country is coming together but Westminster is not." She went on to say that the current "division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit" adding "I have concluded the only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead is to hold this election."
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, said:
“I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first.”
Later on in Prime Minister’s Questions the pair traded their usual exchanges, with Corbyn suggesting the Prime Minister could not be trusted, a reference to her previous insistence that a snap General Election would not be called.
Some thoughts on what this might mean from a policy perspective:
The prime motivation for Mrs May will be to secure a clear mandate of her own to carry out Brexit, increase her majority in the House of Commons (making the passage of Brexit easier) and to then get on with the business of trade negotiations and industrial strategy. As Theresa May backed the Remain campaign in the EU Referendum, this is the opportunity for her to lead Brexit according to her own terms and offer some clarity over what this might look like. With the current lead in the polls enjoyed by the Conservatives, some quarters are predicting a landslide.
Industrial Strategy – The Civil Service will enter a 6 week period of Election Purdah immediately before the election which prevents central and local government from making announcements about any new or controversial government initiatives which could be seen to be advantageous to any candidates or parties in the forthcoming election.
As a result there could be a very minor delay in the development of the Industrial Strategy progress but this is unlikely to be significant. Likewise the development of the sector deal. The Industrial Strategy Sector Deal and the Bazalgette review will continue along the existing timeframe and we expect these to conclude in the summer.
Ministerial team – A new cabinet formed after the General Election could well see new faces at the helm. I don’t expect there to be too many changes however as this election is more about the Conservatives strengthening their majority ahead of Brexit negotiations rather than a need to shuffle the deck.
Article 50 and Brexit – The coming weeks of campaigning will hopefully help shed some further light on what sort of a deal Theresa May is going for as well as the visions for Labour and the Lib Dems.
Uncertainty or clarity – With a current majority of only 17, an ineffective opposition and a lack of clarity about what Brexit will mean, one of the chief concerns for Ukie members according to our recent survey was the uncertainty over what the future holds. Whilst a General Election will introduce further short term uncertainty, the prospect of a stronger government with an increased majority and a clear direction forward should bring with it greater clarity.
Our member research in to the challenges and opportunities of Brexit remains the right course of action over the coming months, in particular:
Talent is the number one priority for games businesses. The UK’s departure from the EU is seen as an opportunity to redefine our immigration laws to position the UK as home to the best technological and creative international talent.
Access to markets
Games business were clear that it is vital that games businesses retain the ease of trade, for digital services and physical goods, that they currently enjoy through membership of the European single market.
Data is of fundamental importance to the games industry. It is therefore critical that the Government ensures there is a robust legal basis in place following our departure from the EU for cross-border data transfers between the UK and EU to continue, and that any future changes to data protection laws do not hinder this flow of data.
Our departure from the EU was seen as an opportunity to review our existing public funding structures to see more targeted funding that will unlock the long-term cultural and commercial potential of the UK games industry.