Events industry concerned over PM's call for snap election

Event professionals have expressed concern for the stability of the industry following Theresa May's announcement yesterday (18 April) to call a general election on 8 June.

Image @istockphoto.com
Image @istockphoto.com

Yesterday morning in an unprecedented move, Theresa May announced her call for a snap election to take place in 52 days. The move signals a u-turn for the prime minister after she has repeatedly stated that she would not consider taking such action.

Uncertainty post-Brexit

Nic Cooper, CEO of Sledge, was concerned that the snap election will potentially cause further instability post-Brexit. He said: "If May gets a clear mandate then this will be good for business because it’s less disruptive. A hung parliament will be bad because the country has settled down post-Brexit and we are doing better financially. A hung parliament will cause a sense of nervousness again and the consequences of this could be bad. This is a huge gamble for May but she comes across as a steady pair of hands. A big win will allow her to secure her premiership."

Sam Robson, group events director at The Appointment Group, reiterated many worries that have been voiced by the events industry regarding the decision for Brexit, and the risks of going ahead with the result of the referendum. "My main concern is for the city and how many financial organisations will lose their headquarters. Its also bad for British businesses as a lot of business might be taken from us and moved abroad. This is also very worrying for the hotel industry as it employs many of its staff from outside the UK. This could have a further negative effect on our relationship with Europe."


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Opportunities for opposition parties

Speculation on May’s motives included strengthening her mandate for leaving the EU and striking while there appears to be no viable political opposition led Cooper to highlight the lack of opposition from the Labour party. "May might have chosen to do this because Labour are at an all time low. They are polling at the lowest rates ever allegedly." In balance, Cooper added that "pollsters have been notoriously wrong in the past, a few examples being the last election, the referendum and Trump’s presidency win."

Robson identified an opportunity for other political parties to reverse the Brexit decision, saying that "there is no real opposition at this moment so this would be an opportunity for another party to come in and oppose Brexit."

However, others stressed the need for a united front in securing the best possible outcomes for the events industry. Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the Meetings Industry Association, said: "For future economic prosperity and to ensure our sector continues to thrive and the UK remains the destination of choice for international business events, it is essential that the Government is united and stable to negotiate the best deal for the UK as we exit the European Union."

Moving forward

Others urged the industry to look to the future and identify opportunities for the sector regardless of the outcome of the election. Simon Hughes, vice chair of the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP) said in a statement: "Regardless of the Election, the agenda for the events industry will be the same as we set out in our recent policy document ‘Opportunities for Global Growth in Britain’s Events Sector’.

"But, we will be watching carefully the commitment each party makes during the election on the opportunities that will benefit the events industry – namely trade, talent and tariffs - which remain critical to future success. Assurances that the work of the Events Industry Board and VisitBritain will both continue and be reinforced will be welcome too."

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