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Tuesday 18 April 2017

Snap General Election: More short-term uncertainty

Theresa May announcing General Election in June 2017Today’s announcement by Prime Minister, Theresa May, that the Cabinet has agreed to the calling of a snap General Election on 8th June has come as a surprise. May has consistently stated that there would be no General Election until 2020. Though the motion needs to be passed by the House of Commons, it seems highly likely that May will get her wish; Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, has already stated his support, suggesting a two-thirds majority should be in the bag.

For May, this is the right thing to do. Without a snap General Election, she would have been continually fighting opponents in Westminster who have questioned her ability to press forward with Brexit negotiations given the small majority of the Conservative party. Crucially, as she stated in her announcement today, the most difficult stage of the Brexit negotiations would have coincided with the next scheduled General Election in 2020.

However, there are major implications to this decision. Theresa May is determined to provide the country with “certainty, stability and strong leadership” as we head towards Brexit. Yet, in the short-term this snap General Election will bring just the opposite: more uncertainty and instability. If nothing else, her stance could be considered arrogant – the ability for the Election to bring certainty and stability assumes that the Conservatives will win on 8th June…. And with a bigger majority. But, as we know (and have had confirmed by recent events in the UK and the US), politics can easily surprise us with its twists and turns. That means, for the next couple of months, we can’t be absolutely certain that there won’t be some sort of Brexit U-turn should another party (or a coalition) take power, nor can we predict what this will mean for the future of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

At TechMarketView, we are just entering our next forecasting period. We are already factoring in the effects of Brexit, both positive (investment in ICT to support the post-Brexit world) and negative (uncertainty breeding delays, and resources – both budgets and people – being redirected to all-things Brexit). We are also already in the Purdah period for next month's local government elections. Now we must factor in the usual General Election ‘Purdah’ period, which usually starts six weeks prior, during which large or contentious projects or programmes will be delayed (most of which will be supported by digital), as well as yet more uncertainty – and hence caution – related to Brexit (Brexit implications: UK public sector SITS).

There are always opportunities that arise from these sorts of situations – in the run-up to the last General Election, for example, the large SITS incumbents to Government benefited from contract extensions and bolt-ons, and management consultancies talked of a pick-up pre-General Election (though a decline in demand as the new Government put its plans in place). But, overall, the story in UK public sector SITS was one of General Election disruption (see UK public sector SITS supplier landscape 2015-16). This time, with Brexit complicating matters further, that disruption is likely to be all the greater.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '13:23' - Tagged: public+sector   election   government   brexit  

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