For Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn it is an opportunity to offer the UK an “effective alternative” to the Conservative government. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has billed it as the “chance to change the direction of your country”, while Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has labelled it simply a “huge political miscalculation”.
Whatever your political leanings, most of us can at least agree that May’s decision to call a snap election on June 8 was somewhat of a surprise. Not least because it came from a PM who had consistently vowed not to hold a general election before 2020. As recently as March 20, her spokesperson insisted: “There isn’t going to be one. It isn’t going to happen. There is not going to be a general election.”
But as May’s announcement this week proved, politicians can be creative with the truth. And this is concerning for the travel industry, because this snap general election raises questions: what will happen to Heathrow’s third runway (if the Tories lose, will the airport expansion decision be all to play for again?); and what will now happen to the consultation process into the new EU Package Travel Directive?
Then there is the timing of this snap election. History has shown that customers delay big purchases (such as holidays) during election campaigns, preferring to wait for certainty. The last three general elections were held in May – itself frustrating for that all-important pre-summer holiday booking period. Holding it even later on June 8 could be, as one expert puts it, a “disaster” for the industry.
Over the coming weeks TTG will be keeping a close eye on the party manifestos and relevant pledges, because with Brexit looming, the outcome of this election will have huge implications for the industry’s future. And while May might want “certainty”, it is uncertainty that has become the more familiar face of this Brexit/Donald Trump age. We could be in for a turbulent ride.