The UK tech sector has largely welcomed the news that Theresa May is expected to become Prime Minister following David Cameron’s resignation.
May, who served as Home Secretary from 2010 to 2016, became Cameron’s successor after Andrea Leadsom – her only rival – dropped out of the running in the Conservative Party’s leadership race.
Although May’s time in office has been marked by conflicts with tech and internet firms over laws that will force them to break their own security in order to aid government surveillance, pundits from the UK’s technology industry have mostly praised her surprise appointment after some tumultuous weeks during the aftermath of the Brexit referendum.
Sense of relief
Chloe Webber, operations director at Company Check, thinks it’s a good day for women in business despite the challenges that lie ahead.
“I think that many in the business community, regardless of their politics, will feel relieved that two months of political uncertainty at the heart of the Tories has been avoided. As for early elections, opposition leadership contests and Brexit deals, all of that comes next. Right now, I for one am pleased to see some semblance of stability return to the Government after weeks of upheaval.
“To continue David Cameron’s metaphor, every ship needs a captain and the future looks more certain now we’ve got one. The fact that the captain is a woman after half a century of male dominance is significant. Within six months we could be in the unprecedented position of having women leading the UK’s two largest parties. And in the White House too – good news for equality, bad news for the glass ceiling,” added Webber.
“The political upheaval over recent weeks has been a reminder that the private sector needs to remain politically agnostic to survive. The city’s tech entrepreneurs and business leaders need to continue driving job creation, innovation and disruption regardless of individuals or parties in national government,” Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, told Tech City News.
As such, Shaw added, the recommendations from Tech London Advocates to government about the policy landscape most conducive to the growth of technology businesses hasn’t changed.
“We need access to the single market to ensure tech companies can scale rapidly in Europe, visa regulations need to allow world-class talent into the country from around the world and national initiatives are required to develop the digital skills required to fulfill a number of tech vacancies that is expected to rise to one million by 2020,” said Shaw.
Calling for stability
“We need stability in the current climate,” said Nena Chaletzos, founder and CEO of travel tech start up, Luxtripper, adding:
“Cameron decided to not take any action with regards to Brexit, which further added to the economic instability. Theresa May, as one of the longest serving home secretaries, has worked closely with the PM over the last six years. She brings a lot of experience to the table, and is focused on moving forward with Brexit. We can now focus on strengthening and building the economy again, whether we agree with the decision or not.”
An experienced politican
Ben Wynn, CEO and founder of DAD, spoke about how May’s new role could impact the country’s technology industry.
“Come what May this has to be the best politics related news in recent days. We now have an experienced politician in charge who is renowned for being morally driven and consistent.
It is the unknown that creates fear and uncertainty and that can be highly destructive for the tech sector. I believe we face some tough times ahead but at least we are now a step closer to knowing what’s next. That’s a good thing,” he noted.
Amy Harris, co-founder of CrunchBoards, also commented on May’s upcoming appointment as the UK’s new leader.
“Having a strong female Prime Minister of Theresa May’s stature at the helm will add much-needed stability in a time of uncertainty and provide clarity in murky waters.
“For the UK tech industry to remain a dominant force, we need to negotiate key areas – particularly trade and access to international talent. From what we can see, May is a real negotiator – and we are confident that she will make the right decisions to help UK tech businesses thrive,” she added.
Back to business
“This is excellent news for two reasons,” said Debbie Wosskow OBE, CEO of Love Home Swap and founding chair of Sharing Economy UK, adding:
“It puts an end to all the uncertainty and Britain can start to get back to business as usual but, most importantly, it is going to be great to have a female role model in power. Her steely character and pragmatic approach will set a good example to many female founders in business.”
No room for pessimism
Allan Syms, COO at MyPinPad, said: “After a period of uncertainty following the referendum vote, what we need, more than anything else, is stability and it is hoped that the quick transition from David Cameron to Theresa May will provide this. The British technology sector is robust and the FinTech sector has been defined by its flexibility and ability to react well to change.
“It is also worth remembering that even outside of the EU, Britain still has a strong financial regulatory system. So, even if we are no longer within EU regulatory frameworks, we still have our own domestic standards recognised world-wide as a benchmark.
“Now is not the time for pessimism, it is the time for bullish optimism that the innovators and entrepreneurs of the UK will provide growth, jobs and optimism as we embrace the new political and economic reality of post-EU Britain. From our FinTech hub at Level39, MYPINPAD are at the heart of this innovation centre and we will continue to play our part in forging new opportunities,” he concluded.
Hopeful for stability
Andrew Sumner, CCO at Conferma, said: “Hopefully the quick resolution of the conservative candidature and appointment of Theresa May will bring some stability and confidence back to the UK and help maintain our global leadership within the FinTech Sector.”