The election has reinstalled the Conservatives in office and Boris Johnson as Prime Minister after a far more clear-cut result than many expected.
The outcome of the vote certainly doesn’t mean all pertinent questions from the campaign are answered - more on that below - but many issues that had been at stake in the campaign are settled for now.
Here’s a few things investors and savers know now the election is over.
A tax hike for the wealthy remains on hold
Much of the discussion on tax policy during the campaign centred on Labour’s promise to raise income tax for high earners - to 45% of earnings above £80,000 and a 50% rate for anything above £125,000.
Less discussed were Labour pledges to effectively hike rates of Capital Gains Tax and Dividend Tax - by equalising them with income tax rates - and to reverse a significant exemption on Inheritance Tax that potentially allows homes up to the value of £1m to be passed on without tax.
A big Tory win means these things won’t happen. Instead the Conservatives have promised to deliver a modest rise in the threshold for National Insurance to £9,500 - worth an estimated £85 per year to anyone earning above that level - and have promised not to increase Income Tax, National Insurance or VAT for five years.
The nature of the result, however, means there is still pressure to spend on services and that needs to be paid for. The Conservatives have won many traditional working class constituencies and if they want to maintain those gains in five years time they may need new policies that appeal to those voters. Spending more, perhaps paid for with extra tax on the rich, could still be on the list.
Pensioner perks survive - but expect more pressure for action on our aging population
Both major parties promised in this election to maintain the Winter Fuel Payment for over-60s and the ‘Triple Lock’ for the state pension. This is the rule that says the payment must rise by the highest of either the rate of inflation, the rate of wage rises or 2.5%.
So the State Pension seems safe from any cuts (or slower increases) for now. But bear in mind that the Triple Lock is an eye-wateringly expensive promise to keep. Right now, it’s wages rising fastest meaning a 3.9% rise in the State Pension next year - more than twice the rate of inflation.
On social care, Boris Johnson has promised that no-one will have to sell their home to pay for old-age care but has declined to settle on a firm plan of how to achieve that. The problem is getting worse and previous studies have suggested big, and expensive, policymaking is needed to sort it out.
Now he has a stable majority in the Commons and a mandate to ‘Get Brexit Done’, Boris Johnson has little excuse but to turn his attention to sticky problems like the escalating costs of our aging population.
UK stock market in line for a boost, but uncertainty won’t be far away
For some time, UK shares have been trading at a discount versus some other major markets like the US. A big part of the reason for that has been Brexit on the one hand, and the prospect of a radical Jeremy Corbyn-led government on the other.
The election result has put one of those issues to bed for the time being, but the other remains a live issue. Despite the Conservatives’ ‘Get Brexit Done’ message the nature of our departure from the European Union remains an open question.
Britain now seems certain to legally leave the EU by the end of January 2020 but then ensues an implementation period lasting until December next year. Boris Johnson has promised that this period will not be extended, meaning he intends to have at least the outline of a trade deal with the EU in place by then. The problem is that, as we stand today, no one with any expertise in trade negotiations believes that to be possible - at least not if the Prime Minister pursues the divergent Brexit he has promised.
Something has to give. If there is to be an extension to the implementation period it must be requested by July 2020. The coming days will be watched closely for signs that the Prime Minister - confident in his newly won dominance - will face down calls from Brexiteers for yet more brinkmanship with the EU.
If he continues to appease them, expect all those fears about ‘no deal’ to surface once again in the first half of next year.
I discuss the election result in more detail with Fidelity's Tom Stevenson in the latest MoneyTalk Podcast. You can listen to it here.
Important information: The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up, so you may get back less than you invest. Investors should note that the views expressed may no longer be current and may have already been acted upon. Tax treatment depends on individual circumstances and all tax rules may change in the future. Withdrawals from a pension product will not be possible until you reach age 55. This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to an authorised financial adviser.
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