Chris Norris, Director of Policy and Practice at the NLA

 

OK. At time of writing only St Ives is left to declare a result meaning that there can be absolutely no doubt that the Conservative Party has taken more than enough seats in the House of Commons to form a majority government.  

In fact, Boris Johnson’s party looks set for a majority of close to 80, taking such seats as Bolsover, home of the Beast of Bolsover Dennis Skinner since 1970, and Sedgefield, Tony Blair’s constituency from 1983 to 2007.  

Although most polls predicted a Tory victory, few expected a swing from the Labour Party of the extent seen over the last 24 hours.  

So, what happens next and what does this all mean for landlords? 

Well, it means changes in direction for all three of the main UK-wide parties. The Liberal Democrat leader, Jo Swinson, has lost her seat to the SNP meaning another change of leadership for that beleaguered and (arguably) increasingly irrelevant party. 

The Labour Party has returned the lowest proportion of seats since 1983. Whatever your political stance this is extremely significant. The 1983 election was considered by many to be the historic low point for the mainstream British left. However, when you consider that in the early 1980s the Labour vote was split by the SDP-Liberal Alliance taking more than a quarter of the popular vote, 2019 may well take its place in political folklore.  

Jeremy Corbyn will resign as leader, although there are already attempts to delay the inevitable. To allow a period of ‘reflection’ while factions within the party vie for control, and leadership contenders assess their chances.  

It is therefore obvious why the opposition parties will recognise the need for change, but why would the Conservative Party make any changes after such a successful night? 

They might not, but I would suggest that there are two major reasons to suggest Boris Johnson will approach the next five years very differently to how some might expect.  

  1. He has a majority. In fact, he can now enjoy the most substantial majority any Conservative leader has experienced since Margaret Thatcher’s heyday of the mid-1980’s. This will afford the Prime Minister a great deal more flexibility than he, his predecessor, or her predecessor had to determine the future direction of the Government. Neither the European Research Group (ERG) or the DUP will be able to dictate policy – although it remains to be seen whether this will result in a shift towards one-nation policies in the vein of Boris Johnson Mayor of London, a drift to the right, or something entirely new.  

  2. He has that majority by virtue of winning in areas which were considered ‘safe-Labour’ seats. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet will have to consider how they repay the trust afforded to them by communities like Blyth Valley, Newcastle, Bolsover, Bassetlaw, and continue to appeal beyond their traditional heartlands. Traditional Tory policies and positions may not have the cut-through required to maintain support, and pressure from constituency MPs in these areas may play a much more pronounced role.      

For landlords this is all likely to lead to more uncertainty, but also more potential opportunities to influence public policy.   

The new Conservative Government is unlikely to be as constrained as the last, although their commitment to ‘get Brexit done’ will of course be the number one priority in the new year, meaning that we could well see an acceleration of proposed housing reforms.  

With pressure from the other side of the aisle reduced, tax policy could once again come to the fore, as could welfare reform as ministers struggle to find ways to appeal to a widest spectrum of constituency issues.  

A Queen’s Speech will follow shortly, with a Budget Statement expected in February or March, after which we will have a clearer idea of Boris Johnson’s plans for the future. 

 

Read our election update to see more detail on how the election results could affect your lettings business.

13 December 2019 - 9:41am
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