“JUST GET ****ING ON WITH IT!” Not the war cry of a hardline Brexiteer, but the plaintive refrain (give or take the adverb) from some dozen property people I’ve chatted to over the past month or so – all of whom voted remain, but now long to get on with their lives.
The main gripe with almost every executive I’ve talked to is no longer the economic uncertainties post Brexit, but the life-sapping wait until 1 November. Yet the majority of our politicians want to inflict at least another three months of purgatory on us – more likely now the Supreme Court has ruled the proroguing of parliament unlawful.
Despite this and the meticulous tactics of the remain camp, Project Fear has had minimal impact on homebuyers’ appetites outside London (housing transactions have hardly wavered from the around 100,000 a month average, according to the HMRC). But it has taken up swathes of management time preparing for the chaos we’re assured will be visited upon us.
However, Persimmon went to some length in its latest results report to demonstrate just how well its supply chain is prepared. So why put up with further months of pointless psychodrama?
Even in the capital, where people seem to be most fixated on the intrigues in Westminster, Brussels and the Supreme Court, an inverse relationship appears to have played out between the amount of hot air generated by politicians and potential buyers looking for homes.
As yours truly predicted in May after the original deadline was extended, buyers started crawling out of their shelters following the temporary cessation in hostilities. “There was renewed activity and sales when parliament went into summer recess. The phones stopped ringing the day MPs returned,” said London agent Christopher Ames in the back of the latest RICS report.
The data from the RICS appears to concur: buyer enquiries jumped above their seasonal norms in May, June and July before slumping again in August as the populace ran for cover ahead of the return of parliament on 3 September.
Yes, in the commercial sector there has been a hiatus in all sorts of investment, but little wonder when decision-makers face a torrent of alarmist tosh sluicing out of the FT daily. Certainly a no-deal Brexit will bring disruption. But, for instance, we could slash corporation tax to lure foreign investment; a falling pound would give exporters and tourism an adrenaline shot; and we could build, build, build.
Competition, not co-operation, drives capitalism; Brussels’ interventionist approach explains the decades of sluggish growth of the EU relative to the US and many emerging markets.
Yet the metropolitan liberal elite ignores this and assumes the majority merely need to be presented with the ‘facts’ to fall obediently in line. Typical of their self-delusion is a headline in The Guardian: “Tories extend poll lead to 12% despite week of political chaos”. No, it’s not despite the political chaos, it’s because of it.
Like the electorate, the majority of homebuyers and, I’d guess, developers simply want this turmoil to subside – deal or no deal.
Thirty-five days left. BRING. IT. ON.
Alastair Stewart is an equities analyst and consultant