Monday 11 July saw another dramatic twist in the political landscape of the United Kingdom. No sooner had former shadow business secretary Angela Eagle announced her challenge for the Labour leadership, Andrea Leadsom dropped out of the Conservative race.
So quickly did things develop in Central London that Ms Eagle was left rather embarrassed welcoming questions from political editors at the BBC and ITV, who had already left to see what Ms Leadsom had to say.
And no sooner had Ms Leadsom dropped out the race, leaving Theresa May as the only candidate and Prime Minister-in-waiting, the country was asking what sort of Prime Minister the home secretary would make. But for business owners, those questions were 'What will Theresa May will mean for my business?'.
'At your service'
Just a short while before Ms Leadsom announced she was quitting the leadership race, Ms May had launched her campaign (which she expected to last around nine weeks), setting out her stall to become just the second Prime Minister in British history. The Financial Times political editor, George Parker, described her speech as "not unlike those made by Ed Miliband" or former Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable - calling for responsibility among big businesses and a closing gap between men and women, executives and employees, the rich and the poor, and the north and south.
She said the Conservative party would be “at the service” of the working people, under her leadership. Although details were few, Ms May said she would tackle excessive pay for company executives. That included making shareholder votes on pay packages binding, not advisory, and placing customers and low-level employees on the boards of big firms.
Ms May pledged to “get tough on irresponsible behaviour in big business”, explaining that there was an “irrational, unhealthy and growing gap between what these companies pay their workers and what they pay their bosses”.
Appealing to the masses before the 2020 general election, or a possible snap election, the new Prime Minister criticised George Osborne's concentration on “one or even two of our great regional cities”. Instead, she called for a "proper industrial strategy" to develop all of Britain's cities.
'Different kind of Conservatism'
Recognising the public's anger towards corporate tax evasion, Ms May also said she will tackle attempted takeovers of UK firms by overseas companies. She highlighted Kraft's takeover of Cadbury and Pfizer's failed bids for AstraZeneca.
With the UK's corporation tax already considerably lower than many of the world's developed economies, many view takeovers like those mentioned above as a plot to save money on tax bills.
“There is not much job security out there,” she said on jobs. “Some find themselves exploited by unscrupulous bosses and yes, some have found themselves out of work or on lower wages because of low-skilled immigration.”
Ms May added: “It’s not anti-business to suggest that big business needs to change. This is a different kind of Conservatism, I know. It marks a break with the past. But it is in fact completely consistent with Conservative principles.”
What businesses say
Mike Cherry, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “With Theresa May now confirmed as the next UK Prime Minster, the Government must act decisively to secure our long-term economic stability after the decision to leave the EU. Immediate action is needed to improve small business confidence and allow them to reliably plan ahead for the future.
“The new Prime Minister will decide the UK's approach to EU negotiations, and she must ensure that smaller firms' interests are taken into account - simple access to the single market, the ability to hire the right people, continued EU funding for key schemes and clarity on the future regulatory framework.
"We also call on Theresa May, as the new Prime Minister, to guarantee non-UK EU nationals, many of whom run their own small businesses or are employed by small businesses, to be granted the right to remain in the UK both during the negotiations and thereafter -and to use the negotiations to ensure that UK small firms and the self-employed who work in the EU can continue to do so."
Chloe Webber at Company Check, said: "I think that many in the business community, regardless of their politics, will feel relieved that two months of political uncertainty at the heart of the Tories has been avoided. As for early elections, opposition leadership contests and Brexit deals, all of that comes next. Right now, I for one am pleased to see some semblance of stability return to the government after weeks of upheaval.
"To continue David Cameron's metaphor, every ship needs a captain and the future looks more certain now we've got one. The fact that the captain is a woman after half a century of male dominance is significant. Within six months we could be in the unprecedented position of having women leading the UK's two largest parties. And in the White House too - good news for equality, bad news for the glass ceiling."