The EU referendum’s Brexit result is attracting a mixed response from the North West’s commercial property and business sectors.
Following a morning which has seen the pound’s exchange rates fall and Prime Minister David Cameron announce his plan to step down, here in the region industry insiders are still getting to grips with the expected “uncertainty” and “turbulence” and what the decision could mean in the longer term.
George Downing, founder of the Downing property group and a long-running supporter of the campaign for Britain to leave the EU, has called for “calm” and suggests a positive outlook for Britain.
He says: “I’m shocked and surprised that we’ve won – the polls had been suggesting otherwise.
“People need to stay calm. There will be some turbulence but we are now in a position to negotiate and deal with Europe more on our own terms.
“It’s disappointing that David Cameron has made the announcement about stepping down so soon. I understand why he’s done that but it’s not immediately helpful.”
Downing adds: “The UK is attractive from a property investment perspective – and it’s also a great place for students from overseas to learn – and that reality is not changed by today’s events.”
Conrad O’Neill, director of Manchester-based commercial agent Canning O’Neill, has raised concerns for the immediate future and for some developments.
He says: “This is bad news for the commercial property market, which dislikes uncertainty and instability. It’s bound to cause some form of slowdown/dip in the short term but the prevailing market dynamics are such that we are unlikely to see the falls witnessed between 2008 and 2010.
“The question that is impossible to answer is how long the effects of Brexit on the commercial property market will last. Long term we will recover and, who knows, we may be better off economically out but the country has taken a leap into the unknown.
“Some development plans are bound to stall or possibly be shelved as developers wait to see how Brexit plays out on the economy. One could however also make an assumption that uncertainty creates opportunity for those who know where to look.”
Meanwhile Derek Dawson, head of commercial litigation at Liverpool’s Paul Crowley & Co solicitors, says the forthcoming steps for the government and the remaining EU members will be important.
According to Dawson: “There is no immediate change in laws, but the uncertainty over the exit process will inevitably affect businesses and will be at the fore front of companies when they come to make investment decisions. The economic wheels will continue to roll, but a great deal will turn on what sort of deal the government can secure with the remaining EU members and what reaction the other EU countries have to the referendum.
“It remains to be seen whether the freedom and security trumpeted by the Brexit campaign will come to pass. Big business was in the Remain camp and there is a considerable risk that businesses will seek to move their headquarters out of the UK with our near neighbours in Dublin a likely beneficiary.”
There has also been a focus on the future of the Northern Powerhouse and Martin Venning, director at UK Northern Powerhouse which gathers prominent businesses for an annual conference on the concept, says: “This morning’s result makes the case for the UK Northern Powerhouse more compelling. Our stakeholders will continue to contribute to the process of building a stronger, more productive and stable Northern economy.
“The challenges of growth post Brexit will require innovation and new forms of collaboration which can create new opportunities for all. We expect to play our part in shaping that agenda”.