Political turmoil as Tories lose majority

The Conservative party have lost their majority in the General Election, resulting in a hung parliament.

Labour MPs gained 29 seats, with the Tories losing 12. The Conservatives remain the leading party with 318 seats, but no longer retain enough MPs to form a majority government.

Despite the calling of a snap election having backfired spectacularly, PM Theresa May has been quoted as saying she has ‘no intention of resigning,’ and will visit the Queen today to formally ask permission to form a minority government.

The construction industry has reacted with fears of uncertainty and continued turmoil, with formal negotiations on Brexit due to start in less than two weeks.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said that the election has left key business sectors “nervous”.

He said the construction sector was “particularly vulnerable to dips in consumer confidence brought about by political uncertainty,” and that it is therefore “crucial that this uncertainty is minimised.”

Berry continued: “In the longer term, there could be a potential silver lining for the business community, as the prospect of a hard Brexit now seems less likely. Theresa May stood on a hard Brexit platform and she has clearly not been given a mandate to approach the negotiations in this way.

“The election result will surely have a significant impact on the shape of the Brexit deal we end up with. This could be a positive for business leaders, who are concerned about a broad range of issues – for the construction sector, our greatest concern is that the flow of migrant workers might be reduced too quickly, and before we are able to put in place a framework for training sufficient UK workers to replace them.”

Greg Hill, Deputy Chief Executive at housebuilder Hill, commented on the dangers of continued uncertainty: “No business likes uncertainty, and housebuilders like it least of all. This hung parliament and the horse-trading that will take place over housing policy to get a coalition in place means that many housebuilders will hit the pause button on their investment decisions – this is the exact wrong moment for a construction slowdown. The country needs new homes desperately, and we hope that the negotiations are concluded rapidly so that the new government is in place and ready to work with the sector to go out and get building.”

He added: “There is room for compromise and we have seen all political parties put housing at the centre of their manifestos. The Conservatives’ Housing White Paper mapped a blueprint for boosting housebuilding rates and their manifesto committed them to building 1.5 million new homes by 2022. Delivering these proposals should not be overshadowed by the impact of Brexit. As part of the negotiations the new Government must act immediately to keep the flow of talent from the Continent open.”

Other commentators urged politicians to work towards consensus to end confusion and continue addressing the housing agenda.

Chris Nelson, Co-Founder at egg Homes, commented: “I hope that politicians will put rivalries aside to form a strong and co-operative coalition in order to put the UK in the best position to secure a strong Brexit deal. “In addition we would really like the government to put tackling the housing crisis high on the agenda.”

Director of the BRE Academy Pauline Traetto commented: “I urge political parties to act in the best interests of their constituents and form a productive coalition which will be best placed to address key issues, such as exiting the European Union, and tackling the UK’s housing crisis.

Gwyn Roberts, Lead at the Home Quality Mark at BRE commented: “The coalition also needs to ensure there is sufficient funding provision for young people to get into construction trades, in order to be able to keep up with the demand for housing in the UK, and create high-quality and long-lasting homes. In the light of the challenges of ensuring a good Brexit deal, the importance of house quality must not be forgotten.”