City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram brands Theresa May ‘weak and wobbly’ and Chamber of Commerce CEO calls on new Government to get on with the day job. Tony McDonough reports
Political and business leaders in the Liverpool city region are alarmed at the ongoing uncertainty following the General Election result which produced a hung Parliament.
Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May, whose party fell eight seats short of an overall majority, is set to form a Government propped up by the 10 MPs of the Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The performance of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party shocked many as it made gains across the country.
Mrs May says she is seeking a “period of stability” but on Friday evening the Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, Labour’s Steve Rotheram, branded her “weak and wobbly”.
He said: “Throughout the General Election campaign, Theresa May insisted a vote for her was a vote for strong and stable Government.
“What we have now is a weak and wobbly Prime Minister relying on the DUP in a desperate attempt to retain the keys to Number 10 Downing St.
“Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party defied the hostile media, commentators and pollsters to make significant gains in not just key constituencies in the Liverpool City Region, but right across the country too.
“If, as expected, the DUP agree a deal with the Tories – it is incumbent upon our party to hold their feet to the fire in the House of Commons and work towards a Labour Government at the next election, whenever that may be.”
Jenny Stewart, chief executive of Liverpool & Sefton Chamber of Commerce, today published a list of priorities for the new Government.
She called for swift action on a number of issues, including the reform of business rates, access to the single market, the implementation of a clear industrial strategy and a commitment to regional infrastructure projects such as high speed rail.
“It really is about time the Government addressed the North/South divide in terms of infrastructure investment,” said Ms Stewart.
“With the right support, the Northern Powerhouse can become a global powerhouse and equal London and the South East’s contribution to our economic output.”
Paul Bibby, managing partner of Liverpool law firm, MSB Solicitors, said people in business were concerned that “nobody is steering the ship”.
“Uncertainty prevails – and people don’t like uncertainty,” said Mr Bibby.
“Calling the General Election, and then effectively losing, it was suicidal move that offers no help to the economy
“Theresa May had everything she needed and didn’t need to call an election. A cynic might say her decision was to destroy the Labour Party – but she underestimated the youth vote.”
Peter Taaffe, managing partner of Liverpool accountancy firm, BWMacfarlane, said: “This election result will just create more uncertainty for businesses – which is the last thing they need.
“Theresa May has formed an electoral pact with the DUP but I fear we have not seen the last of the turmoil. The Prime Minister is weak within her own party and a leadership challenge may materialise.
“Much of the talk is around the imminent Brexit negotiations but there are other day to day issues the Government needs to get a handle on.
“In particular, it needs to make a firm decision about the Treasury’s Making Tax Digital initiative. Delays and uncertainty have surrounded its introduction and we believe it has the potential to cause widespread disruption. Clarity is needed urgently.”
Chris Oglesby, chief executive of Bruntwood Group, which owns a number of Liverpool’s best known office buildings, said: “The priority is to ensure that we get a stable government in place as quickly as possible.
“As a business rooted in our cities we believe that the success of our great metropolitan centres is fundamental to the well-being of the country as a whole.
“We will work with the Government along with civic and business leaders locally to achieve this.
“Bruntwood remains deeply committed to the Northern Powerhouse agenda.
“We want to see hard investment in infrastructure to improve East-West connectivity and steps taken to address fundamental issues, such as improving productivity and closing skills gaps.”
Bob Ward, North West senior partner at EY, said: “In the face of political uncertainty, and with further political turbulence most likely, UK companies and its leaders will have to work out how we can continue with the job of doing business against a challenging backdrop.
“I have no doubt that the UK has enough business leadership to stand-up and lean-in during this critical time.
“It is important for the UK’s continued economic success and growth that UK businesses keep focused and the wheels turning.”