So, Britain’s first Christmas General Election in almost a century is over, and Conservative Boris Johnson has secured an emphatic victory that could well extend the Tory agenda up to 14 years, a modern era record.
For many in yachting, this is the most significant national vote since the election of Donald Trump in the US three years ago. But what does it really mean for yachting in practice?
Well, in terms of the British premiership, not that much. Yes, the Tories are the business-friendly party of the UK, and it is likely that rates will remain favourable for SMEs, many of whom are key contributors to the global superyacht supply chain.
Contrastingly, the spike sterling has already borne will, at least in the short term, compromise the competitive advantage British exporters have enjoyed over the last two years, in what had been an anomalous period where they were able to undercut other currencies with an ever-weakened currency. However, this is likely to fluctuate plenty more over the coming weeks and months.
Where the hopes of many may come to nothing is within the manufacturing sectors that underpin our industry’s supply chain. While Mr Johnson’s campaign was fought on plenty of populist rhetoric, and his track record is for large infrastructure projects, he is unlikely to subsidise Britain’s beleaguered manufacturing sectors. Underneath the bluster, he is far too savvy to drain the public purse to catalyse industry. So, for those hoping for an injection into our sector, don’t hold your breath.
I said, at the beginning of this piece, that the result doesn’t mean much in and of itself. And that is largely true. What its profound impact for our collective lot is, is that it all but ensures Brexit will be a quick death for Britain’s role in the Union and that is far more meaningful for yachting.
What the Customs Union, and any resulting tariffs, as well as restrictions of movement for transient citizens, have the potential to transform the landscape of the European yachting sector significantly. Of course, the details of our exit agreement are still a long way from being confirmed, but this morning we now know the majority exists within our legislature to force through whichever deal is presented to it by Mr Johnson. So Brexit is an impending reality, and the British superyacht market now has to start preparing itself for any manner of eventualities. This result is just the beginning.
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