Thames Tap sponsors have delivered a sceptical verdict on recent events in Government, which culminated in the appointment of Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister. 

Mr Sunak won the race for Conservative party leader on Monday after some of the most chaotic events of modern times at the top of Government.

Here is what our partners told us:

David Jones, managing director of Evans Jones, said: “As Rishi Sunak is crowned PM, it is thus appropriate to consider what the likely outcomes are.

“Despite the narrative from Conservative MPs to the contrary (seeking to attribute blame to everything from the war in Ukraine to the last Labour Government), it is clear to me that Kwasi’s mini-Budget of September ‘spooked’ the market, triggering a requirement for emergency bond-buying by the Bank of England, coupled with the raising of interest rates, a significant drop in the FTSE and the fall of the pound against major currencies.

“Economist will argue that interest rates needed to increase to stem inflation, a sentiment which I would agree with. However, this disastrous mini-Budget entirely eroded confidence in the market.

“As an economy based on market and consumer confidence, the impact is likely to be significant and difficult to reverse in the short to medium term.

“In the property sector I am already seeing agreed land deals being ‘pulled’ and renegotiated. Those who can afford to ‘sit’ on sites are simply treading water, pending improvement/settling of market conditions.

“Regrettably, the market reaction is one which has impeded growth, a market response completely at odds with the Truss/Kwarteng growth aspirations.

“Some argue that the time is right for a General Election, personally I consider this would only result in inertia and market uncertainty.  It is the current Government which has contributed to our current woes.

“Thus it is for them, in the next two years, to prove that they have the wherewithal to, at the very least, bring back economic stability, demonstrate what ‘getting Brexit done’ actually means and seek to repair our damaged reputation on the world stage.

“What the country needs is a period of political and economic stability, aiming to rebuild market confidence.  Sadly, we will all be paying the price for the level of national debt and it is likely that taxes will increase, coupled with further cuts in public service expenditure, both unavoidable if we are to have any chance of regaining some form of appropriate fiscal control.

“There remains a huge mountain to climb with the economic repercussions of the Kwarteng mini-Budget impacting all sectors of the economy for many months/years to come.”

Will Nassau-Lake, partner at Boyes Turner, said: “The continuing uncertainty caused by a weak Conservative Government that currently lacks fiscal credibility, needs to be offset by the uncertainty of the fiscal policies that a new Labour Government (if polls are to be believed) will introduce, following a General Election.

“Ultimately, the development industry requires economic stability and a degree of certainty about economic policies and other policies relevant to that sector. This allows developers to plan ahead for the long-term delivery of commercially viable and environmentally sustainable work spaces and new homes which continues to underpin the property market in the South East.”

Philip Waddy, managing director of WWA, said: “I find it depressing that, as one of the leading nations in the world, we appear incapable of managing UK PLC in a responsible and socially aware manner.

“The shenanigans of the past few weeks mirror everything that is bad in UK politics. Whilst an opposition party might be excused from being disorganised, once in Government there has to be collective responsibility and discipline.

“What we have witnessed in the Conservative party over recent weeks are MPs fighting each other instead of fighting for the best interests of the state.

“With so many deeply concerning issues facing our nation both at home and abroad, the present administration’s fixation on self-destruction is shameful.

“What we need more than anything else is stability. If the present administration cannot get disciplined quickly, then better a change of Government in my opinion. Whilst the principle of a high growth economy with lower taxes and less regulation is a worthy aspiration, the failure to demonstrate economic viability during the transition was an unforgivable error of judgement.

“It’s remarkable that the Conservatives introduced the Office of Budget Responsibility in the first place due to concerns that a future Labour Government might bankrupt the country with unfunded policies.

“How times have changed. Meanwhile the rest of us have to struggle on with hyper-inflation, spiralling interest rates and a broken planning system.”

Chris Holdup, associate director with mode transport planning, said: “Sticking with what can affect the planning and property development industry most directly, we are hopeful this change may mean that the recent statement to ‘stop top-down housing targets’ is left behind in the process, as seeing the reaction of many of our fellow property professionals this week, this may have had a less than desirable effect on the residential development sector in particular.”

Hugh Blaza, senior consultant at Sandstone Law, said: “So what will be different from the Truss ‘blink and you’ve missed it’ premiership?

“How could we know? Not a single speech from Sunak throughout the campaign and so we find ourselves with a new PM, elected by fewer than 200 people and with no discernible mandate.

“During his summer jousts with Truss, Sunak adopted the ‘triple repeat’ approach, believing (presumably) that if he said the same word more than twice, it would be remembered as if it had been carved in tablets of stone.

“But does anyone still recall the ‘brownfield, brownfield, brownfield’ mantra Sunak trotted out to reassure the Conservative shires that their Green Belts would (despite the sacrifice of them in so many already-adopted Local Plans, not to mention that little parcel of agricultural land he needed to accommodate his new swimming pool) be safe?

“And what of charter cities where planning laws may become a distant memory? And then there’s the ‘bonfire of regulations’ which look destined for the shredder as a result of The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022?

“The trouble is, no-one, least of all the tiny handful of people who supported Truss, then Johnson, then Mordaunt, then Sunak himself, knows or cares. The best we can take from the past four months is that we are that much closer to a General Election, when the politicians who want our votes will need to put their cards on the table.

“Until then, it’s the Wild West out there.”

Image: Sergeant Tom Robinson RLC, OGL v1.0OGL v1.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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