This past July, Britain voted to break their forty-three old membership of the European Union. The citizen’s vote for the leave was a tight race, as 52% voted for leaving, with 48% against. Confusion and fear about the future came from economists, citizens, and politicians alike as the prevailing effects that the decision will have amongst the country and the rest of the EU is uncertain since Britain is the first country ever to leave the EU. The process for Britain to be fully separated from the the European Union is expected to be a long and tedious journey. Trials, new treaties, trade agreements and more diplomatic and legal paperwork will need to be drafted, which could take years for Britain to formally separate from the EU.
Many industries have seen a decline following the decision, and the construction sector is expected to be one of the sectors hit hardest the by Brexit vote. There are around 3 million workers within Britain and more from EU countries that are currently able to work without any need for a work visa or permit; however, with Britain’s separation, their fate is unknown. In London alone there are three-quarters of a million EU workers and it is approximated that a third of those workers are in the construction industry. By requiring those workers to obtain a visa or permit to be allowed to work within Britain’s borders, the construction companies will take a big hit and will be severely impacted as they depend on immigrant workers to cover labor shortages. Furthermore, costs of construction supplies are expected to increase. Any materials or equipment that needs to be imported from other EU countries will be passing through new and unfamiliar trade agreements and there is concern that more British Pounds will need to be spent to mitigate the uncertainty.
After the Brexit successful vote, an initial decline was expected to hit many industries. The effects were felt by the British Pound as well, as it reached a low it has not seen in 31 years during the first days of Brexit and while it has recovered some, its value has been volatile the past few months. In response, The Bank of England has drastically lowered interest rates, to prevent any economic fallout the vote might cause. Additionally, the construction sector experienced a dip in the past quarter. While it was less than the anticipated fall, it still hints at what is to come. Still though, how much blame Brexit is to hold for the downturns is still to be determined. There are businesses still hopeful toward the future, such as HOK who are behind the Spire, which will be the largest building in West Europe, is still slated for construction despite the uncertainty in tomorrow’s economy.
That is the question on everyone’s mind as well, what will the future be like without the membership of the European Union? Will Britain be able to successfully sustain itself without 27 other states behind it, or will it flourish becoming its own entity? It is only a matter of time when the process fully begins by March 2017, which can take years for the full exit to complete, but from which, the effects from the Brexit vote will be felt forever.