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Boris Johnson’s UK Election Win: How the British Fashion Industry Is Reacting 

After Boris Johnson’s Conservative party won the United Kingdom election with a 76-seat majority, financial markets responded positively. 

When trading kicked off this morning in London, the pound reached $1.34 against the dollar, its highest level since May 2018, and 1.20 against the euro.

In a speech this morning, Johnson, the British Prime Minister, said he was “humbled” to have “won the support and trust of people who have never before voted Conservative” and that he “cannot and will not let them down.” He said that he would “deliver change,” but that his party “must change too.”

Johnson promised to “get Brexit done” in accordance with the Jan. 31, 2020 deadline, and also said that he would introduce a points system for immigration and the “cleanest, greenest ecological policy.” He pledged to take the country carbon neutral by 2050.

But what does the result mean for the British fashion industry?

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In a statement issued to FN this morning, The British Fashion Council said that it would “keep working with government to make sure the interests of the British fashion industry are well-represented and heard.”

The statement reiterated that the industry is worth £32 billion (nearly $43 billion) to the UK economy annually. “Our aim is to make sure that government is aware of our priorities and will help us move the agenda forward on topics including international trade, sustainability, education, training and talent,” the statement said. 

Helen Brocklebank, CEO of Walpole, the official body representing the UK luxury industry, was more upbeat regarding an end to uncertainly — but she expressed caution regarding the timetable for a trade agreement.

My view is that luxury businesses will welcome an end to the uncertainty of the last three years,” she told FN. “Historically a Conservative government has offered the conditions in which British luxury thrives, but we remain concerned about the timetable for the negotiation of a UK/EU trade agreement – completing it in 11 months from Jan. 31 would be unprecedented.”

For luxury footwear businesses with deep supply chains through Europe, “the devil will be in the detail of our future relationship with the European Union,” Brocklebank concluded.

Fashion designer Deborah Lyons agreed. “We are hoping, like everyone, that we will now get some clarity on exactly what will change and how,” she said. 

Although she produces her collection locally in London, sourcing many of her fabrics in the UK, Lyons is dependent on exports for the growth of her business. She also relies on European imports in a smaller way since the domestic manufacturing industry is on the decline. 

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