UK vote eases corrosive uncertainty hurting businesses

Full Screen
1 / 5

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

A combo of British national newspapers on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019 that all lead with the general election victory of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party has won a solid majority of seats in Britain's Parliament a decisive outcome to a Brexit-dominated election that should allow Johnson to fulfill his plan to take the U.K. out of the European Union next month. (AP Photo/Tony Hicks)

LONDON – British businesses that have been hobbled for three years by fear and confusion over Brexit are getting a break.

The U.K. election result means Britain's departure from the European Union will almost certainly happen — after multiple delays — on Jan. 31, as scheduled. It remains unclear how the Conservative Party of Prime Minister Boris Johnson will steer the economy beyond that, since so much of Britain's future trade relations have yet to be negotiated once it has left the EU.

But for companies that have had to plan for all sorts of potentially chaotic outcomes to Brexit, even just a little clarity is a breath of fresh air.

“The idea that the situation with Brexit is going to be resolved is good for business,” said Andy Zneimer, who handles communications for a small soap business in east London called Clarity-The Soap Co.

The company had to prepare for the worst in recent months, when it looked likely that Britain would leave the EU without an exit agreement, which would have led to immediate and painful tariffs on trade, border checks and other red tape.

The company, which employs mostly disabled people in its workforce of 110, had built up its stocks of aluminum bottles and raw materials to make sure it was ready for any turn of events in Brexit. Now it's looking to add to its business.

“We are about to increase our capacity and making plans to develop eco-products,” said Zneimer.

The British pound and stock markets jumped higher on the outcome of the vote as investors welcomed the greater clarity on Brexit. The currency, which had risen in recent days on expectations of a Conservative win, is up another 2 cents against the dollar, at $1.330. London's FTSE 100 blue-chip stock index rose 1.5%.