Holding our nerve

There’s been so much press comment this week on the potential damage inflicted on the economy should the British public decide on Brexit at the EU referendum in June.

My honest opinion is that nobody really knows what will happen if we vote to leave – after all, we are in unchartered territory – but there seems to be a good deal of scaremongering going on.

One thing that is doing damage, however, is the rhetoric surrounding the debate and the sense of anxiety this is creating.

A report to be released by the EY Item Club will show that their latest forecast suggests that Britain’s economy will grow more slowly this year than previously expected.  It predicts 2.3% growth – lower than its 2.6% prediction in January. The report acknowledges the disruption to the economy caused by Brexit uncertainty. Peter Spencer from Item Club said: “Uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the EU referendum may hit business confidence and corporate appetite for risk.”

This comes on the back of a survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors which suggested that house prices were set for a slowdown over the coming months. It, too, blamed the forthcoming referendum on European Union membership for cooling the housing market. Simon Rubinsohn, Rics’ chief economist said: “The EU referendum is likely to be an influencer in terms of the damper outlook for London in particular.” The survey showed that most surveyors in London expect prices to fall over the next three months.

This comes as little surprise to me. In my blog in March, I wrote that the looming Brexit vote was undermining the normal functioning of the economy and that UK businesses were feeling increasingly nervous, delaying major decisions until after the June vote.

Confidence in all of this is key and sadly this seems to be falling, hence transaction levels are suffering. Managers are putting off making decisions and this seems to be creating a domino effect.

My view is that the great British public is starting to feel election fatigue – and we still have two months to go. My argument that politicians and commentators are just confusing us further with unsubstantiated statistics and counter arguments sadly seems to be coming to the fore.

Rather than infighting we need decisive messages from our leaders and politicians to get through this period, not stone-throwing and tantrums. That and a strong unambiguous decision on 23 June – be it in or out.

I’m voting for a return to normality.

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About Tony Ward 4 Articles
Tony Ward is chief executive of Clayton Euro Risk