A Really Simple Guide to the 2019 Election

Gary Green
Gary Green
November 27, 2019

A lot of our clients have been asking how the 2019 election next month might affect their business and their finances. So we’ve put together this very simple guide.

We’ll talk through the basics of each party, what the results of the 2019 election might mean for your finances, and even try to predict who’s going to win (don’t hold us to it!). We’ll focus on the Conservatives, the Labour Party, the Lib Dems, the Brexit Party and the Greens.

Things move very quickly in elections, so make sure you stay up to date with all the latest developments. The Wikipedia page is a good place to start: it has a detailed explanation of how everything works, an election timeline and a summary of the latest opinion polls.

What Happened Last Time?

After triggering Article 50 (to leave the EU) in March 2017, Theresa May was riding high. The public (it seemed) adored her, she had the backing of (most of) her MPs and she was (by some measures) the most admired Prime Minister in history.

Holding only a small majority, she decided to cash in on her popularity and call a snap election in the summer of 2017. Unfortunately for the Conservatives, the campaign failed to deliver the triple-digit majority they hoped. In fact, she failed to win a majority at all, and was forced to arrange an alliance with the DUP in order to stay in power.

May herself stepped down earlier in the year, having failed to win support for her Brexit withdrawal agreement. She was succeeded by Boris Johnson, who was finally able to call an election at the end of October.

Who’s Going To Win?

After the Conservative majority of 2015, the rise of Corbyn, the Brexit vote, the election of President Trump and the result of the 2017 snap election, we should be wary of making predictions.

However, we’re going to have a go. Let’s start by first looking at the opinion polls. Using a 15-poll moving average, as of mid-November the Tories are at around 40%, Labour 30%, the Lib Dems 15%, the Brexit Party 10% and the Greens 5%. This sort of split would typically lead to a small majority for the Conservatives.

We could also see what the bookies are saying. According to the betting markets, the Conservatives are almost certain to end up with the most seats (95% likely). The most likely overall result is a small Conservative majority (as the polls suggested).

In terms of who will be the Prime Minister after the election, it will almost certainly be either Johnson or Corbyn. Perhaps a coalition will emerge, with a demand for a new leader? In which case, the markets say there is a small chance of Keir Starmer (2%), Sajid Javid (1%) or even Jeremy Hunt (0.5%).

Who Are The Party Leaders?

The Conservatives are led by Boris Johnson. He’s a former journalist who writes for The Telegraph and was editor of The Spectator. He’s been Foreign Secretary, mayor of London (winning two elections in a Labour-leaning city) and an MP for 13 years.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, has been an MP for 36 years. He’s been a reporter, a teacher, a union chief and a peace activist. He became leader (much to everyone’s surprise) in 2015.

At 39 years old, Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson is the youngest leader of the five main parties. She served under David Cameron as a business minister and, like her old boss, she has a background in public relations.

Nigel Farage, formerly of UKIP, leads the Brexit Party. Although he was instrumental in securing the 2016 Brexit referendum, and featured in the successful Leave campaign, he has failed to win a seat in the commons seven times. He has, however, been an MEP for 20 years.

In order to differentiate the party from the Westminster establishment, the Greens typically don’t nominate a formal leader. However, coming into the 2019 election, they are steered by Sian Bartley (who worked for John Major in 1995) and Sian Berry (who replaced Caroline Lucas last year).

What Are The Traditional Policies Of Each Party?

The Conservatives are a centre-right party who have traditionally stood for free market economics, a strong military, low taxes and law-and-order.

Labour goes into this election somewhat further left than usual. Having said that, its policies for 2019 are roughly in line with its historical stance on nationalisation, strong unions, higher taxes and increased government spending.

The Lib Dems owe much of their recent success to being an unabashed “Remain” party (see below). In previous elections, they have campaigned strongly for civil liberties and social justice.

The Brexit party has only been around for six months and hasn’t published an official manifesto or programme for government. But if we take UKIP as a proxy, we could expect a commitment to reduced immigration and a move to proportional representation.

The Greens were founded on a commitment to protect the environment. More recently, they have also embraced workers' rights, animal rights and electoral reform.

Where Does Each Party Stand On Brexit?

The Conservatives want to leave the EU by the 31st of January next year, preferably with the deal that Boris Johnson agreed earlier this year.

Labour has been slightly less clear on its Brexit position over the last couple of years (rather shrewdly, one might say). The latest from Jeremy Corbyn seems to be that he is in favour of a second referendum, although he hasn’t said which way he himself would vote.

The Lib Dems are the most “Remain” of the major parties. They recently tweeted that they “are clear and unequivocal: we must #StopBrexit”.

The Brexit Party prefers a no-deal Brexit, because it thinks that Boris Johnson’s proposed arrangement is a bad deal. They take issue with the £39b payment that the UK would make as it leaves.

The Greens would call a second referendum, in which they would support Remain.

What Would Each Party Winning Mean For My Finances?

Typically, the Conservatives have been considered the most business-friendly party. Stocks often rise and fall in step with the fortunes of the party, and Tory wins usually lead to greater business confidence.

However, Boris Johnson has shown he is probably closer, at least economically, to Ed Milliband than Margaret Thatcher. He recently decided not to cut corporation tax, and has announced a raft of new spending for public services. Perhaps this is just political: an overture to win over disgruntled Labour voters, which might be softened once a majority is won.

Labour, by contrast, has its most radical leader in a generation. It would scrap tuition fees, mandate a minimum wage, increase public spending and give everyone free broadband. Many of these policies are popular with the public, but it remains to be seen how they would be received by the business community.

Given that a number of prominent commercial and financial leaders were in favour of Remain (at least back in 2016), the Lib Dems could offer a short-term boost for business owners. However, their pledge to raise taxes and move to 80% renewable energy by 2030 could harm certain sectors.

How a Brexit party win would affect businesses all depends on how you feel about Brexit itself. Maybe you think that no-deal would be a disaster, leading to shortages, backed up lorries and even riots? Or maybe you think that the UK would thrive once free of the suffocating bureaucracy of the EU?

A win for the Green Party would probably look a lot like a win for the Lib Dems, as they have promised to invest £100bn a year for 10 years on green policies. Perhaps this would generate more than a million new jobs (as they claim) and reduce our reliance on foreign oil (not to mention “saving the planet”). Or perhaps it would cripple business, innovation and growth.

Whatever happens on the 12th of December, it’s important you have your finances in order and a clear plan for the future. Key Business Consultants is an award-winning accountancy and business consultancy firm, which can help you steer through the most uncertain times.

If you’d like to discuss working together, please get in touch.

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