Europe

Brexit: time for plan B

Right, it’s time for Plan B.

The result of the referendum was not the one wanted by the majority of those in this industry I have spoken to in recent weeks. But the decision is already history; the most important thing now is move on quickly. After all the turnout was reassuringly high, the result more emphatic than most expected. It’s too important for Remainers to mourn, to blame, to wallow.

The pound was pummelled overnight. The market will be mauled on opening but there are things that property can do to mitigate the at least short-term damage.

Plan B is where to start. You’ll have one. And if you haven’t make it a priority.

It probably starts with a Brexit budget. Not George Osborne’s, though that may follow. In recent days directors at a number of agents have acknowledged two budgets: a Remain one and a Brexit one. We know which will be implemented.

Meanwhile we’ll see the acknowledgement of the much-denied Brexit clause in the weeks ahead, much as we did after the Scottish referendum. And those residential developers said to be offering Brexit-contingent prices on London flats may be congratulating themselves on a shrewd put of marketing. They may also be the prime beneficiary of this decision given the exchange rate impact.

But the important aspect of Plan B is that we don’t talk ourselves into what could be a deep recession. We mustn’t let a drama become a crisis.

Hermes this morning warned of political uncertainty, a recession, “a sharp sell-off in risk and sterling” and, worse, “FDI foregone”. Capital Economics warned the pound could fall to $1.20, deeply below the 30-year low of $1.34 reached at the time of writing.

Beyond the UK the consequences for the European Union itself will be profound, as will be the consequences for the world – especially if the US goes down a similarly anti-establishment route in November. Politicians need a back-up plan too.

For now though whatever one’s vote in the referendum, we should all hope that sensible Brexiteers are proved right: that this vote will be better for Britain and better for this industry.

And we need to act quickly, working hard to persuade the world we are every bit as attractive a place to invest – whether it’s money, time or talent – as we were yesterday. That woulkd be the most effective Plan B of all.

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