Guests at the first private dinner for Southern Entrepreneurs, sponsored by EY and UBS, and organised by The Business Magazine, heard from Bill O’Neill, head of the UK investment office for UBS, and Will King, founder of King of Shaves.
O’Neill gave a post-election look at the UK economy, considering hurdles the next five years might present.
Despite the Conservative’s 12-strong majority, he expected changes, pointing to the 21 by-elections during the last Parliament with five seats lost to the last Government.
Fiscal policy would be key but with a planned 30% cut in spending, he told guests: “There’s a lot of speculation about how plausible this is.” He saw no immediate interest rate rises and expected the UK would remain friendly to investment markets.
A single government (rather than coalition) offers clarity but less certainty surrounds the issue of EU membership. The referendum,
he believed, might be next autumn – ahead of elections in France and Germany in 2017. He believed Britain would vote
to stay in.
Currency markets had yet to respond to EU uncertainty but he warned volatility could emerge. However, should Britain come out, much depended on what kind of relationship existed after exit, notably if the country remained part of the European Economic Area.