Following Theresa May’s surprising declaration to hold a snap General Election on June 8, Cast Consultancy chief executive Mark Farmer hopes the main parties’ manifestos would give “serious solutions” to the building skills gap and the impact of Brexit on the sector.
Speaking outside 10 Downing Street this morning, the Prime Minister told the media that, following a Cabinet deliberation, it was judged to be in the country’s best interests that an election be conducted.
However, the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 set the date of the next General Election to May 7, 2020. This may only be done if the Government receives the approval of at least two-thirds of the House of Commons for a motion calling for an early election.
Ironically, this will require a degree of cross-party unity the Prime Minister stated was tragically absent in Westminster.
In her announcement today, May implicitly questioned the loyalties of the principal Opposition parties in Parliament, together with the Scottish Government, over the UK’s exit from the European Union. By making her support for the government’s Brexit stance an issue of national unity, she has effectively reaffirmed her allegiance to it.
As May put it, “At this moment of enormous national significance, there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division” But Westminster has yet to catch up with the rest of the country.
“Labour has threatened to vote against the agreement we reach with the European Union in recent weeks.'” The Liberal Democrats have declared they intend to bring the business of government to a stop. The Scottish National Party say they would vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union.
“And unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way. Our opponents believe that because the Government’s majority is so small, our commitment will waver and that they can force us to change direction. This is incorrect.”
Author of the Government-commissioned Farmer Review of the UK’s skills shortfall, Farmer said: “The construction skills shortage and Brexit’s impact would persist regardless of the election’s outcome.
“In the upcoming election, I hope that the major parties’ manifestos appropriately represent the importance of the construction industry’s welfare and future modernization as part of its contribution to the British economy.
It would be ideal if there was some degree of cross-party agreement on a comprehensive skills and innovation agenda that was not disrupted by political squabbles for ever!
The Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, have taken up the challenge.
“I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first,” Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a statement.
“Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and damaging cuts to our schools and NHS.
“In the last couple of weeks, Labour has set out policies that offer a clear and credible choice for the country. We look forward to showcasing how Labour will stand up for the people of Britain.”
LibDem leader Tim Farron said: “This election is your chance to change the direction of our country. If you want to avoid a disastrous Hard Brexit. So long as you wish to retain the United Kingdom in the EU If you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and unified, this is your chance. Only the Liberal Democrats can avert a Conservative majority.”
“Britain is at a crossroads – and today’s announcement means that people are rightly given a say over the direction this country will take,” said Green MP Caroline Lucas. Only the Green Party provides a bold, positive vision for a better sort of Britain. At this election we will stand for an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few; a Britain that’s open to the world and the conservation of our precious environment. We will stand up to the politics of hatred and division that is hurting our communities and give people across the country a chance to vote for a better Britain.”
While Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley added: “Theresa May’s announcement today reveals a deep dishonesty at the heart of Government. Despite frequent denials of a plan for an early General Election she has u-turned. Greens are prepared for this pivotal juncture in the destiny of our country. We will be standing candidates in every region of this country and giving people a true alternative to the politics of the past.”