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Will the new PM prioritise the high street?

Without wanting to impose one’s own political views too much, surely with the appointment of Boris Johnson as the country’s new Prime Minister yesterday, must also come some important questions about what this means for the beleaguered UK high street and, more specifically, the jewellery trade.

Johnson won the Conservative Party leadership ballot with 92,152 votes to 46,656 and will take office today (July 24) following Theresa May’s official resignation.

During a much-publicised leadership campaign against fellow rival Jeremy Hunt, Johnson promised to use the chancellor’s £675m Future High Streets Fund as well as pledging planning reforms to make it easier to change the use of properties on the high street.

However, do these promises go far enough to ease the current woes of high streets and town centres in the UK and, more importantly, will they even be at the top of the new PM’s priority list?

And surely to provide any kind of real relief to retailers, Johnson’s promises need to go beyond this and address the business rates issue which is crippling so many high street stores.

But, before we even get to that, Johnson’s time will surely be solely taken up by Brexit, with domestic issues continuing to take a back seat until it is sorted.

Johnson has already said Britain will leave the EU by the agreed departure date of October 31, regardless of whether a deal has been reached or not.

Leaving without a deal would surely be a nightmare for trade and commerce, impacting those who manufacture here and export goods abroad but, also having a marked effect on those businesses which rely heavily on imports.

The uncertainty which has left many businesses in limbo and impacted the economy since the referendum vote will surely continue if a favourable deal is not struck.

One thing is for sure though, action is needed and fast to support British businesses and the high street.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) says retail conditions are currently the toughest they have been for a decade.

Chief executive Helen Dickinson probably sums it up best when she says: “We hope the new government will commit to a full review of the broken business rate system and collaborate with the BRC on a strategy to bolster the retail industry during this time of rapid change.”

 

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