The Conservative Party has won the 2019 general election with a sweeping majority, giving Prime Minister Boris Johnson a clear mandate to “get Brexit done”.
In a crushing defeat for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, the Conservatives are on course for a 78 seat majority with just one constituency left to declare.
So how has the UK’s tech industry reacted to the Conservative landslide?
The overwhelming sense is that the result will provide some much-needed certainty.
Businesses across the UK have been calling for an end to Brexit uncertainty for more than three years, and the country’s thriving tech sector has been no exception in this respect.
“Whatever your personal opinion on Brexit, the fact that businesses can now start planning how they will manage the transition with a firmer timeline in mind can only be a good thing,” said Darren Upson, VP of small business at Soldo, a fintech.
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“Tech companies must now ensure they are prepared for Brexit, so that they are best placed to mitigate risks and take advantage of opportunities.”
David Bowen, founder and CTO of Logicor, a firm that makes smart infrared heating panels, said: “It’s a brave new world we are all entering into and we still have a few things to iron out but, regardless of which side of the political fence you sit, movement in any direction must be welcomed.”
Ritam Gandhi, director of app maker Studio Graphene, echoed these sentiments.
“In many ways, the Conservative Party’s latest victory means that tech companies can begin planning for the future knowing there won’t be a major overhaul of existing policies and initiatives,” he said.
“The Conservatives have been vocal in making the UK a global competitor in tech, and I see no reason why this cannot be the case – we definitely have the skills, workforce and drive to achieve this goal.”
Conservative landslide: Time to deliver on tech promises
In a pre-election survey of Verdict readers, 29% said that victory for the Conservatives would be the best outcome for UK tech – four points ahead of Labour.
Some in the tech industry are optimistic about the impact a Conservative majority will have on UK tech.
Charlotte Crosswell, CEO of Innovate Finance, a not-for-profit association representing the UK fintech community, welcomes the new Conservative government.
“We look forward to continuing our open and constructive dialogue with the government about the UK fintech sector, to ensure it continues to drive growth and innovation in financial services,” she said.
Stan Boland, CEO of software firm FiveAI said: “It’s vital that the Conservative government preserves what’s good about the UK tech sector, and helps to make it great.
“We encourage our political leaders to support an open and well-funded sector that can foster the iconic global tech companies of the future.”
Others called on Johnson to stick to technology pledges made in the manifesto, such as rolling out “gigabit-capable” internet speeds to every household by 2025.
Mikael Sandberg, chairman of digital infrastructure firm VXFIBER expects the government to “prioritise the rapid deployment” of faster internet across the UK.
“Surely, the results today present an opportunity to get Britain connected – to safeguard its digital future for the benefit of businesses and consumers alike,” he said.
The Conservative Party also made promises to invest in clean energy solutions and infrastructure, such as electric vehicle charging points.
Brexit fears remain for UK tech industry
Despite the election result providing clarity, concerns remain about the impact of Brexit on the UK’s tech sector, such as the ability to attract top technology talent.
“Now that the likelihood of a hard Brexit has been avoided, it’s unlikely there will be a significant impact on the UK technology industry, but we won’t know for sure until final negotiations have been completed,” said Upson.
Gandhi cautioned that Brexit “could damage” the UK tech sector’s contribution to the country’s economy, adding that it’s “why the newly elected government must ensure it is protecting the interests of this sector”.
Chris Labrey, MD of UK & Ireland at Econocom, a B2B digital services provider, said that while businesses have gained some clarity, it might be too late for those that have reigned in spending due to Brexit uncertainty.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see many businesses collapse within the next year as a result of halted expenditure prior to this election,” he said.
“If you haven’t invested in technology, you’re going to be left behind, and some businesses will be too far gone to catch up.”