British industry may be relieved that the electorate voted for stability last week, but already the clouds of a European referendum are on the horizon.
After all the hype around the general election and the possibility of a hung parliament, the British public voted overwhelmingly for continuity and stability by keeping the Conservatives in power.
But in electing a party that was fiercely battling the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP), has Britain traded short term economic stability for long term economic chaos?
Those working in the chemical industry are particularly fearful about the potential trade barriers that a British exit could create
The Conservatives deployed a successful strategy of persuading potential UKIP voters to vote for them instead, as they were “the only party that could deliver a referendum on Europe”.
Now back in power, Prime Minister David Cameron must deliver his promise of holding an in-out vote on Britain’s EU membership by the end of 2017, with some commentators claiming it is likely to be brought forward to next year.
This is causing deep unease among manufacturers, with EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler describing it as “the biggest threat to our long-term economic well-being”.
“The new administration must move quickly and campaign on the back of a strong and positive case for Britain’s continued membership,” said Scuoler.
“Any drift or dithering on this issue will mean uncertainty for British businesses, which would be very unhelpful for the long term prospects of the economy.”
Those working in the chemical industry are particularly fearful about the potential trade barriers that a British exit could create, making the acquisition and sale of vital ingredients and products more difficult.
There is also a fear over the implications for the skills shortages prevalent in most Science and Engineering disciplines, with an exit from the EU likely to make it much harder for UK companies to attract Europe’s top talent.
Britain may have voted for stability, but it looks like the only continuity it will experience over the next couple of years is an economy held back by anxiety.