Election 2017: Accountants react
The shock exit poll predicting 317 seats for the Conservatives proved uncannily accurate and the UK woke up this morning facing the prospect of a hung parliament.
The nightmare on Downing Street scenario sketched out in AccountingWEB's pre-election analysis has come to pass and Theresa May's tactical gamble to try and improve her parliamentary majority has failed spectacularly.
Turnouts were up across the country, fuelled by younger voters, many of whom threw their backing behind Labour's Jeremy Corbyn the one obvious winner. The SNP hold on all but three seats north of the border has weakened, and UKIP's vote evaporated - with many defectors appearing to prefer Corbyn to May.
The tally among the 50 or so accountants standing for Parliament closely mirrored the national poll result, with three losses (one each for the Tories, Labour and SNP) and two gains (one Tory, one Labour).
Treasury team in tatters
The Tory nightmare extends from Downing Street a few doors down to the Treasury, where both financial secretary Jane Ellison and economic secretary Simon Kirby lost their seats. Talk before the election was that Theresa May was thinking about bringing Amber Rudd in to replace Philip Hammond as Chancellor.
But with inexperienced players further down the team unavailable to support a new Chancellor, the scope for radical changes will be limited and may mean the positions are safe for Hammond and chief secretary to the Treasury David Gauke, who from his election night performances appears to be seen as a safe pair of hands who can be let loose on the public airwaves.
Instead of the promised "strong and stable" government, the political situation has been plunged into uncertainty with just a few weeks to go before negotiations are due to begin on the UK's exit from the European community. Theresa May's role is under intense scrutiny this morning and the country is left to wonder whether she will be able to form a government and the likelihood of another election in the not too distant future.
What about MTD?
At the risk of sounding parochial, the election result throws a huge cloud over HMRC's Making Tax Digital programme. Until a new government is appointed, little time will be available for ministers to devote to MTD detail in the Finance Bill.
Labour's Jeremy Corbyn was one of the few politicians to speak out against the current MTD plans during the campaign, along with the Lib Dem/accountant candidate Bruce Roberts. The stance didn't help Roberts in Clwyd South, but it certainly didn't hurt Corbyn.
The only realistic scenario for the original timetable to progress as envisaged is if Theresa May opts for a continuity strategy and retains her previous team as best she can, which would include Chancellor Philip Hammond. Anyone else would have to get their head around the policy in a very short time to bring legislation forward for a Finance Bill before the re-elected MPs head off for their summer holiday.
Unlikely - particularly if there is any whiff of controversy around MTD. If anyone in Northern Ireland and Scotland is concerned about the project, they could exert quite a lot of influence by lobbying Tory and Unionist MPs with their views.
Even if there isn't another election, MTD is likely to fall into the "leave it until the Autumn Budget/next year's Finance Bill" tray. The most likely outcome in this situation would be an extra year for everyone to prepare for a kick-off in April 2019 and successive years.
For many AccountingWEB members, that might not be such a bad scenario. But equally, will anyone have time to think about MTD while they ponder what's going to happen to the UK's government and Brexit negotiations? With so many other issues to be resolved, we may well not hear about MTD for a long time to come.
AccountingWEB hosted a live panel throughout election night to discuss how the results are likely to affect businesses and their advisers: