In Samuel Beckett’s tragicomedy Waiting for Godot, two men – Vladimir and Estragon – spend the entire play waiting for someone who never arrives. As they wait, the men encounter increasingly weird scenarios and busy themselves with repetitive conversations.
Ever since the EU referendum in 2016, politics in the UK has felt a bit like Waiting for Godot. We’ve waited for a resolution and over three years later, none has materialised. All the while, the public discourse has looped around the same few topics.
The hope is that this election will finally end our interminable waiting. For the UK’s businesses, a dose of certainty will be welcome. If the Conservatives win, we know an EU exit is very likely. If Labour wins, they’ll hope to implement a radical manifesto (with all the cost and tax increases that comes with).
Despite an attempted anti-Brexit insurgency, the Lib Dems’ popular support has tailed off. The choice facing the UK is two competing visions for the country. Who will be our Godot, and finally release us from what has felt like an endless wait?
The Conservative Party:
The Conservative Party’s manifesto says it wants to back Britain. It's a reassuring consistency and an apparent pro-business message. After all, Capitalise’s aim is to support British businesses with funding when they need it.
But although the manifesto tries to sound insurgent, it’s arguably quite, as the party’s name suggests, conservative. For example, the Conservatives say they intend to “redesign the tax system”. But drill deeper and the party’s plans amount to tinkering.
The long-planned Corporation Tax (CT) rate reduction to 17% has been officially shelved. Instead, CT will be maintained at 19% under a Tory government. The manifesto also promises that the Seed Enterprise Scheme and Enterprise Investment Scheme will carry on.
A notable change, however, is an increase in the research and development expenditure credit (RDEC) rate from 12% to 13%. The party has said it will review the definition of R&D, too, so that areas such as cloud computing and data are adequately incentivised.
A one percent increase isn’t much to write home about – but it is something. And although RDEC is ostensibly for large companies, it’s important to remember that the scheme is used by SMEs, too.
RDEC is also claimed by SMEs who have been subcontracted to do R&D work by a large company or who have received a grant or subsidy for their R&D project (EU state aid rules prevent grant-funded SMEs from using the SME R&D tax incentive).
And let’s not forget, of course, about the Conservative campaign’s mantra: “Get Brexit done”. With a conservative victory, our EU exit is assured – with or without Boris Johnson’s deal. All throughout the last three years of uncertainty, the UK’s startup and scaleup scene have been a bright spot for our economy.
If voters decide that Boris Johnson’s pledge to get Brexit done is what they want – then so be it. But a conservative government – which likes to label itself as the party of business – must be careful to not throw the baby out with the bathwater.