We cannot allow Brexit to overshadow pressing domestic issues

Jerald Solis

February 28, 2019

Jerald Solis (pictured), business development and acquisitions director, Experience Invest

Fresh off the back of another round of meetings with EU leaders, this week Prime Minister Theresa May took to the Daily Mail to state that the UK remained “firmly on course” to leave the EU with a deal… “if MPs hold their nerve”.

A somewhat pointed remark, and it would have perhaps been more accurate to say: “if MPs just agree with the deal I have proposed”. And that is a rather large if.

With splits across Westminster seemingly widening, the case for delaying Brexit has gathered strength. On 12 March, just 17 days before the leaving date, MPs will have a final vote on Mrs May’s deal. Should that get rejected, and it is widely thought that it would be, then MPs would get a separate vote to decide if they are in favour of delaying the deadline.

Whatever one’s perspective on Brexit, and regardless of how the two aforementioned votes play out, it has become clear that the government can no longer allow negotiations with Brussels to completely overshadow domestic policy. Indeed, the UK public would be hard pressed to name any significant new policies or reforms that have been introduced in recent months because – it feels at least – that addressing pertinent issues has been put on hold.

In the property sector, the all-consuming Brexit talks risk exacerbating problems such as the housing crisis. In fact, a survey of over 400 house building firms revealed that less than half think the government’s target of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s is achievable.

As one of the most pressing matters in domestic politics – something that all major parties campaigned around in the latest election – the housing crisis deserves greater attention. It requires investment coupled with support for private sector businesses to ensure more properties are added to the market.

More generally, anecdotal evidence suggests that a number of people who are currently considering buying or selling a property in the UK have put their plans on hold while the Brexit saga plays out. The lack of firm action by the government – including Housing Minister Kit Malthouse – is failing to provide the reassurances consumers need to progress with significant financial decisions.

At Experience Invest we have the unique benefit of working very closely with both construction firms and property investors. Fundamentally, it is clear that, despite some scaremongering, the real estate market remains both healthy and popular. But the government cannot take this for granted.

Deal or no deal, 29 March or a later date, whatever form Brexit takes it is of critical importance that Theresa May et al do not allow for this single issue – however huge it might be – to completely derail domestic affairs. In the property space, construction must be encouraged, incentives must be considered so people can get on and move up the ladder, and infrastructure must be constantly improved. The government must give such matters due thought, attention and resource.

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