clive black quote web

It took a Bristolian to sum up the national reaction: “You’re joking - not another one!” And so Theresa May for a plethora of reasons has done what she demonstrably told Andrew Marr she wouldn’t do and called a snap election.

What could this all mean for the grocery sector and its supply chains? What should representatives of these fine industries call for from their politicians?

Well, most businesses have long argued that their prime aspiration from the political classes is stability. In this respect politics has failed with referenda and elections leading to a political outlook that is as foggy as ever. After France there are elections to come in Germany and Italy to muddy waters. So, politics and geopolitics - North Korea, Syria and DC - are likely to stymie the stability wish for a while to come.

Back home, there is merit in extending the next parliament to 2022, so covering the key exit and transition phases from the UK’s EU divorce. A sound mandate for Mrs May should create the basis for a more strategic and perhaps balanced outcome post March 2019.

Sterling will be a key conditioning factor. The foundations for the currency look a little deeper with the economy confounding the Remain doomsayers. While so, we are importing inflation, consumer and business confidence are fragile, and it is still early days for import substitution and exporting to materially impact GDP. Businesses want a speedy resolution to the status of British and EU nationals both sides of the Channel, while fiscal policy should continue to encourage entrepreneurship and work; maybe also rebalance taxation between store and online operators? Parliament may also allow for more effective supply-side policies on indigenous skills, travel, digital capabilities and energy. Grocers and producers should be noisy on these points, and we must also commence the discussion on what sort of food, farming and environment policy the UK should adopt post 2019.

More questions still than answers, but maybe with greater scope to condition the outcome in a more settled way, with a leader who is carrying a firm mandate against the backdrop of somewhat dysfunctional opponents and tribes.

Clive Black is head of research at Shore Capital Stockbrokers