Article 50 triggering: the industry reacts

Prime Minister Theresa May has today invoked Article 50 triggering the beginning of Great Britain’s exit from the European Union. Here we offer some of the responses of industry bodies and experts.

RIBA President Jane Duncan wrote in a statement:
“EU citizens, from outside the UK – people who we count as colleagues, friends and family – make a significant contribution to our profession. We would like to assure these colleagues that we are continuing to press Government to ensure your rights are protected as a matter of priority.”
RICS Head of UK Policy, Jeremy Blackburn:
“Britain must retain its front line position on the international stage. Delivering the airport hubs, high-speed rail networks and energy systems needed to make our cities and industrial hubs global competitors will be critical to our future success. However, it is unrealistic to expect Government to deliver a successful Brexit without the full – if sometimes constructive – support of industry.

“Unless the free movement of skilled labour is secured during negotiations, we believe that the UK’s predicted £500bn infrastructure pipeline may be under threat. Our latest figures show that eight per cent of the UK’s construction workers are EU nationals, accounting for some 176,500 people. A loss of access to the European labour market has the potential to slowly bring some of the UK’s biggest infrastructure projects to a standstill.

“Yet while it is the role of Government to secure the trade agreement, industry must also work to secure the domestic skills pipeline…A recent RICS survey revealed worrying figures showing that almost a quarter of our construction professionals fail to recognise the benefits of apprenticeships in solving the skills crisis. It is vital that industry gets behind such schemes for Britain’s long-term good.

“Earlier this week Qatar pledged to invest £5bn in British transport and construction projects.  We believe that if the Government puts the right incentives in place, the UK’s energy, rail and road infrastructure will benefit from further billions of overseas investment. But again, industry must also play its part.”

 

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said:

“The construction industry is undergoing a major skills crisis and remains heavily reliant on skilled workers from the EU, who make almost 10% of all construction workers in the UK. That is why we need to foster home-grown talent and attract more people from all backgrounds to join a career in construction.”

Julia Evans, BSRIA Chief Executive, said:

“As highlighted in a recently-published Brexit White Paper, created from BSRIA member feedback, industry faces skills and labour shortages, therefore, members and industry will be pleased with this step in the right direction for such transparency.

“In this respect, it is critical that industry has access to the skilled and semi-skilled workers it needs to succeed.”

Colin Wilson, Head of UK & Ireland, Cushman & Wakefield, said:
“In the property industry, we know that transactions usually become more complicated the more parties there are at the table. The UK is in effect dealing with 27 member states whose interests do not necessarily align on every issue, while France and Germany have elections which could significantly alter the negotiation process. At this stage nothing is certain. As a result, caution is likely to remain a prevalent theme among investors and occupiers. That said, there remain many positive indicators of global and UK economic activity which are positively impacting UK real estate. In many respects we are seeing a bias towards ‘business as usual’, despite the Brexit backdrop which is encouraging.”
Sandra Dowling, UK real estate leader at PwC, commented:
“The real estate industry should use Brexit, alongside wider global political and social changes, as a catalyst for much needed innovation in the UK property market. We are living through some very uncertain times from a geopolitical perspective yet, against the backdrop of uncertainty, it is striking how much confidence there is in the real estate market, particularly among global investors. Cross-border capital flows are expected to remain strong throughout 2017.
“It is widely accepted that in the aftermath of the referendum the real estate industry focused too heavily on the UK market and did not consider the implications of Brexit on the European real estate market as a whole. Companies should ensure they view the coming months of negotiations holistically and include Brexit plans in their wider business strategies.”