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Blog & News

The B word

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I am aware that this could encompass a wide range of sweary words, but put those to the back of your mind for the present (if you can).  Instead, let’s concentrate on the B word of the moment – Brexit, or rather the other B words that make up the House of Commons.

As any fule no, the refusal of our MPs to make a decision is not good for the economy. “What do we want?” I hear businesses all over the country shouting – to be met by the unequivocal retort of “Certainty!”

At the time of writing (mid-afternoon on 29th March), the government had lost its third vote on “Mrs May deal.”  Also at the time of writing it looked as if we were not going to be revisiting that any day soon, although apparently Mrs May is going to try again, presumably with the same result as before, so what is going to happen?

Well, if I knew the answer, I’d be a rich man, or at least I would be once I’d headed to the bookies to place my bet…but I don’t, so instead, I’ll join the rest of the country’s normal people in emitting a small but personal roar of fury about the current state of affairs.

By way of preamble, it’s worth noting that the construction industry in Scotland has had a good run for many years. As recently as the last quarter of 2018, the FMB pronounced that the “Scottish construction Industry remains resilient despite Brexit uncertainty.” However, more recently, the FMB has not been so sanguine, noting in February that “plummeting output figures should ring ‘alarm bells’ across (the) construction sector.”

That said, the specialist construction press in Scotland does a good job of emphasising the positive. Take last week’s Project Scotland and Scottish Construction Now news pages, which collectively covered good news stories such as the housing development in Port Glasgow, the Sutherland spaceport design contract award, the progress of the Jedburgh Campus, the £150M investment in sites in East Dunbartonshire and the Savill’s assessment that the political uncertainty has not  impacted on Scotland’s residential market. In addition, we can look forward to the Scottish Construction Industry Strategy 2019-2022 and its focus on key areas to help the industry develop. We can also look at the Markit figures for employment, which show that the construction and engineering industry jobs (and virtually every other major sector of the economy) are still growing.

So why (time for small scream of rage), when the warning signs are flashing are those B word MPs B wording about with our respective futures?  Even if we end up with an early general election across the UK, I can’t see anything but more division and continuing uncertainty.  And that’s nothing to the pain we’ll experience if there is a long extension to the Brexit process. It’s at this point that I start to feel sympathy for the view (expressed more than once by my colleagues in the Peace office) that we should lock the doors of the House of Commons and not let the B words out until they have come to a decision that ends this debacle. We are seeing signs of retrenchment amongst some of our customers now, although overall we’re still punching above our weight and, we believe, gaining market share by pivoting to the areas where there is still a big demand for staff.   However, another few years of this and we’ll all – agencies, candidates and employers - be driven demented, and the economy will be on its last legs.  Is that what the B word MPs want?

Chris Peace, MD, Peace Recruitment

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