Here we go again

18 April 2017 UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to call a General Election creates further uncertainty and delay – just as the country’s infrastructure market thought it might be getting somewhere
thumb

When was the last time people in Britain did not face a momentous political moment?

It wasn’t 2016, of course, when the Brexit vote occurred. And it wasn’t 2015, because that was when David Cameron was voted into office on a pledge to deliver that EU referendum. A year before that, Scotland went to the polls to decide whether to become an independent nation.

And now we know that 2017 will not be without its grand political chapter, either.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to call a snap General Election is yet another tremor in the ongoing political earthquake that was caused by the Brexit vote last year, and leaves the UK once again in a state of uncertainty and on yet another political ‘war footing’ as the parties head out to knock on doors and pound the streets in search of votes.

At first glance, the uncertainty and upheaval of this year’s vote is not likely to be anything like as tumultuous as those of recent years. The Tories have a healthy lead in the polls and the chances of Labour turning itself into a united and credible party of government in the next eight weeks appears remote.

Add to that the fact that the Liberal Democrats have such a tiny representation in parliament to begin with that it would take a seismic shift of unprecedented proportions to even turn them into a realistic prospect for second place, and May’s move should not cause too much concern in terms of the future direction of government.

But of course if we have learnt one thing from the past few years, it is that going to the polls is an inherently risky business. Ed Miliband went into election night in 2015 with a realistic prospect of being the next prime minister, only to find his party had been crushed. Similarly, David Cameron was confident of winning the EU referendum, but his gamble ultimately cost him his job.

And after Donald Trump became the unlikeliest of US presidents at the end of last year, anyone who confidently predicts the way an election will swing these days should be treated with a healthy dose of disdain.

Even if the Conservatives do return to power with a majority, as most currently expect, the frustrating thing for the infrastructure community is the fact that the market finally seemed to be making some sort of progress.

After years of stagnation, there are signs of life in the UK’s PPP industry, whether that be Community Health Partnerships’ Project Phoenix initiative, or the apparent pipeline of PF2 projects due to be announced in the first half of this year.

All that now gets swept up into the ‘purdah’ period before an election, meaning ministers and officials will have their hands tied until after 8 June.

And what then? Will Philip Hammond – who is known to be more favourable towards PPPs than his predecessor, George Osborne – still be chancellor? If not, what will his successor think of PF2 and the pipeline he or she will need to sign off? Where will it fall in the post-election priorities?

Once again, we are left with a series of questions, with no hope of any answers until after this latest political movement plays out.

 

Comments

There are no comments for this editorial

This page was last updated on:
18 April 2017.

thumb

Here we go again

UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to call a General Election creates further uncertainty and delay – just as the country’s infrastructure market thought it might be getting somewhere

thumb

The Delivery Man

Gerard Cahillane, deputy director at Ireland’s NDFA, tells Paul Jarvis about delivering the next round of investment

register

Register now to get un-restricted access to all sections of the website.

Want to see more first? Try our free preview...