Hunt v Johnson: The business view

Knutsford in Tatton Constituency

The race to replace Theresa May as prime minister is now into its final stages as Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt go head-to-head for the Conservative leadership.

The party’s members will now choose the winner, but what do business owners in a safe Tory seat want to hear from the next occupant of 10 Downing Street?

The leafy town of Knutsford in Cheshire is in the constituency of Tatton, which has elected a Conservative member of Parliament in every election but one since it was created in 1983.

Former Work & Pensions Secretary Esther McVey is the current MP. Former MPs include ex-chancellor George Osborne.

Its town centre is full of independent companies, surrounded by farmland. With the M6 motorway passing close by, there are also several business parks in the area.

‘Planning system reform’

Paul Danson owns the architectural design firm Imagineering Global, which specialises in large-scale leisure design projects such as shopping centres, bars and restaurants.

“”Historically I’ve been a Conservative. I’m potentially still a Conservative. But what I really like is characters, so I do like Boris Johnson, I do like Nigel Farage and, everyone’ll probably hate me to say it, I do like Donald Trump, because they say it like it is.

“Jeremy Hunt reminds me of my geography teacher at school: grey suit, boring. I don’t know if he’s out of the same camp of what’s-his-name, the old grey guy off Spitting Image [John Major], but I think if I was being serious, I do like Boris Johnson. I do believe that politics has changed and I think we need someone with a ballsy approach to things.”

He says the planning system needs major reform.

“One of the things that’s a bit of a bugbear with us is the planning situation. They’re constantly going on about wanting more housing, but every time we put an application for our various projects, it gets knocked back. I’d just like to see much more consistency with planning legislation.”

‘Cut business rates and rents’

Stephen Edwards runs Stephen Edwards Electrical on King Street in the town centre.

“I vote Conservative. I’d like them to inform us and let us know that things are all going to be OK. Nobody seems to know what’s going to happen with regards to businesses and tariffs, nothing’s been clearly marked out.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty around with regards to Brexit. Not just from me, but from all businesses. However, I did vote to leave.”

But he believes other issues could be more pressing.

“Rent and rates around here are horrendous and a lot of businesses are closing.

“I think we all need a little bit of help and encouragement from the people at the top.

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