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Welcome to my latest post. In my last one, I looked at the many challenges facing the construction industry, the potential effects and how we at Gattica Associates Limited were approaching them. I mainly focused on the recruitment and resource challenge facing us all in the industry, but I also explored others, such as Brexit, project complexity, environmental sustainability and generational differences of those long-serving members of the industry and those just coming into it.
My view of Brexit was that we now know it is happening and as a result in my mind was that the uncertainty that existed before Theresa May’s triggering of Article 50 was slowly dissipating, and confidence and surety in the sector were returning.
Well, just as we all thought it was safe to dip our toes back into the Brexit waters (thank you Jaws) up pops another potential challenge to the industry, a ‘snap’ General Election to be held on June 8th!
This announcement by the Prime Minister caught everyone by surprise and immediately provoked some alarm in the City with pundits predicting some initial uncertainty in Brexit negotiations, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), business certainty and investor confidence.
Within the construction industry itself reaction (in my opinion) has leaned towards the positive and is being seen as an opportunity for the next government to create a strong mandate for speeding up key projects to the UK growth strategy, such as HS2, Heathrow Airport, Highways and vital infrastructure projects and ensuring a strong solution to Brexit.
Mark Naysmith, UK Chief Executive for WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff was quoted in the online edition of Construction News, 18th April with the following: *“In the context of Brexit and the nascent industrial strategy, any future government needs to take a joined-up approach so that we can talk about the link between infrastructure investment and economic growth at a higher level. While infrastructure delivery is supported by all main political parties in some form, 80% of the construction industry believes that the public doesn’t understand the role it plays in enabling growth.”
I believe that this statement by Mark Naysmith captures in a nutshell what needs to happen under the next government. They (whoever ‘they’ will be) have a golden opportunity to ensure that the political climate exists to promote certainty in the delivery of major projects and to create a strong Brexit solution.
It must minimise the effect on construction industry resources and skills, create economic confidence and establishes a platform for sustained growth for years to come.
Like most of you I wait with bated breath to see what the outcome will be on June 8th, although some polls are predicting a landslide victory for the Conservatives, polls can be wrong, remember Trump and Brexit – major shocks!
If it is a landslide victory for the Tories then again in my view, it is essential that all ‘keep their heads about them’ and that calmness is personified throughout the Brexit negotiations. But, having listened to the rhetoric, accusations, counter-accusations and the ‘he said, she said’ attitude from both sides, it makes me wonder where it is all leading. Theresa May has taken a tough stance in the last couple of days with quotes appearing in the media that express her feelings very clearly, for example:
**“In the last few days, we have seen just how tough these talks are likely to be,” (Rejecting the idea that her guests had found her ill-prepared and unrealistic).
***“Britain’s negotiating position in Europe has been misrepresented in the continental press.”
**** “The European commission’s negotiating stance has hardened. Threats against Britain have been issued by European politicians and officials. All of these acts have been deliberately timed to affect the result of the general election which will take place on 8 June.”
Strong stuff indeed! One thing is for certain though, and that is that the political ‘ball’ is firmly in the hands of the great British public on June 8th.
Senior Projects Director
*Online edition of Construction News, 18th April 2017
**Online BBC News, 3rd May 2017
*** Online BBC News, 3rd May 2017
**** Online BBC News, 3rd May 2017