This time next week, we won’t just know whether England has made it through the group stage of Euro 2016, we’ll also know the outcome of the other big European question: are we heading for Brexit?
While the England football team kicked off the tournament playing the beautiful game beautifully, wouldn’t we all have preferred it if they had won ugly against Russia?
Conversely, wouldn’t it be great if the competing teams in the EU referendum had NOT resorted to ugly tactics. Unfortunately, and utterly predictably, that game got very ugly indeed this week as opportunists in the ‘leave’ camp hijacked the Orlando mass shooting to their own ends.
Pro-Brexit group Leave.EU posted a tweet urging people to: “Act now before we see an Orlando-style atrocity here before too long” and “Vote for greater security on June23. Vote #Leave.”
Leave.EU claiming we could face Orlando style attacks in the UK if we don’t vote for Brexit… Really? pic.twitter.com/75tBJUSxNu
— Darren McCaffrey (@DMcCaffreySKY) June 13, 2016
Tasteless in the extreme, the tweet was slammed by education secretary Nicky Morgan as “shameful” and even fellow Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith condemned the comment, saying the tragedy had “nothing to do with this debate at all”.
It doesn’t, but that doesn’t stop people from shamelessly using it to stoke fears over Islamic extremism or making the all-too-easy leap to the issue at the heart of the Leave campaign’s rhetoric: immigration. The two camps are both waging fear campaigns, of course - the other centred on the economic impact of Brexit - and you could say that the head versus heart debate has been distilled down to these two issues.
If only it hadn’t been. The Brexit camp has gained an alarming amount of ground in the last few weeks, which means the industry could be in for a rough ride in the coming months.
Reflecting on 50 years in property, Sir Stuart Lipton said Brexit represented the biggest potential challenge facing the industry. A survey carried out by Property Week underscores his fears, with 58% predicting house prices would flatline or fall in London if we left and 62% forecasting a fall in foreign investment in the wider UK market.
Some argue that this would open the door to domestic buyers and renters, but the feeling at the London Real Estate Forum this week was that Brexit could stall housing delivery just as the way as well as the will is found to tackle the crisis. During a debate I chaired on housing delivery, there was much talk of the importance of partnerships, build-to-rent and modular housing, with Berkeley Group supremo Tony Pidgley describing its new modular concept, The Urban House, as a potential “game-changer”.
Berkeley believes fewer homes would be built in the event of Brexit. “Staying in Europe will help us build more homes”, says Pidgley, adding bluntly: “We don’t have enough skilled workers in Britain and we need the labour.”
But while he is in the ‘remain’ camp, he thinks the general public are “so fed up with the politicians” they might vote for Brexit. I hope not and that common sense prevails. In the meantime, and in light of Steve Norris’s observations regarding the weather, I’ll be praying for sunshine next Thursday.