As the UK woke up to the news of a hung parliament this morning, questions of what it will mean for the country are at the forefront of people’s minds.
The equine industry, business rates, hunting, betting, the countryside and Brexit negotiations are just a snapshot of questions the equestrian world wants answering.
Mrs May’s plan to call an early election and secure a Tory stronghold have backfired, with the Conservative party not winning enough seats to form a majority. They needed a minimum of 326, but fell eight short and ended up with 12 fewer MPs overall than before the election.
The exit polls — for which voters are asked which party they voted for as they leave polling stations — proved correct in their prediction of a hung parliament.
At lunchtime today (9 June), news was breaking that the Conservatives had sought a partnership with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Theresa May will remain as Prime Minister.
The final seat numbers are as follows: Conservative, 318; Labour, 262; Scottish Nationalist Party, 35; Liberal Democrats, 12; DUP, 10; other parties, 13.
Yesterday’s election also had the highest turnout of voters in 25 years, with nearly 70% of Britons visiting the polling booths.
Alex Salmond, vice-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Racing and Bloodstock Industries Group and Scotland’s former first minister, was among the high-profile scalps of the night.
Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, told H&H that rural constituencies were about the “one area of stability” with very few changing hands.
“The failure of the Conservatives to hold on to the majority and the formation of a minority government with the DUP is going to make any political process complex and difficult,” he added.
“It means on Brexit, which is of profound importance to the country and the subsequent development of a British agricultural and land management policy, organisations like the Countryside Alliance are going to have to be on their mettle to make sure we get a deal that means businesses and communities in the countryside continue to thrive. The potential pitfalls are huge.”
He added it is “highly unlikely” that a minority government would be able to address some of the wildlife management issues, such as fox hunting, while the country’s political situation is so finely balanced.
Country Land and Business Association (CLA) president Ross Murray said the result “adds further uncertainty to a period of significant upheaval”.
“The CLA’s top priority is the interests of the tens of thousands of farmers and other rural business owners that are getting on with their jobs today, while politicians manoeuvre and negotiate,” he said.
“We are ready to work with the new government to influence the big decisions that will shape the rural economy and rural communities.
“Immediate attention will inevitably be on the implications of this result for securing a Brexit deal that will work in the long-term interests of agriculture and the wider economy. We remain confident that the right deal can be done.
“However, the priorities extend well beyond Brexit. Our leaders have responsibility to work together to provide rural businesses the economic stability and confidence to grow and create jobs, as well as build the homes and infrastructure that rural communities need.”
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