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Forget the soundbites – focus on the real issues

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The prime minister noted in her post-election speech last week that “what the country needs more than ever is certainty”. Yet, over the next few months, we face not only a hung parliament, but also the probability of a Conservative leadership challenge, and the possibility of another general election before the end of the year. This is not certainty.

Elliot Lipton

The ex-housing minister Gavin Barwell’s housing white paper demonstrated his understanding of the issues that need to be addressed.

Will this white paper survive the inevitable review that his successor Alok Sharma will commence?

Will the new housing minister avoid the need to demonstrate his intellectual capability by making wholesale changes, as has happened historically?

Given how important housing is to voters, and how keen successive governments have been to address the issue, it is surprising that recent Conservative and Labour government housing ministers have remained in post for only 12 to 18 months.

Alok Sharma housing minister

New housing minister Alok Sharma

Still, the prime minister restated her commitment to “dealing with the need for more housing” as part of her reshuffle. Let’s hope housing really is a domestic priority and doesn’t get lost when the attention turns to Brexit negotiations.

Re-focus attention

Hopefully the election result will focus the attention on issues that are of real concern to people - housing, jobs, education, health and reducing the chance of a hard Brexit that will be a detriment to these.

Our Brexit negotiations need to place emphasis on the economy - otherwise, we won’t have the money we need to tackle housing or jobs. These are complex issues and they can’t be decided by soundbite politics such as ‘Brexit means Brexit’.

During times of war, we often see a cross-party consensus. Why is now any different? Brexit will have just as big an impact on the country as any war since the Second World War.

It’s time for all parties to get organised and work together. Though that’s probably too much to ask.

Elliot Lipton, chief executive, First Base

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