As weeks go, they don’t really get more momentous. First we had to digest Theresa May’s 12-point plan for exiting the EU, fittingly delivered in a Vivienne Westwood suit similar to the one worn by Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten. Anarchy in the UK, anyone?
And then, today, we witnessed ‘D-Day’ as in the day ‘the Donald’, a man brilliantly described as a “short-fingered vulgarian” by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, took on the most important role in the western world in arguably the most important piece of real estate, fittingly situated just a short walk from his recently refurbished Trump International Hotel.
It will be the first time a property developer has occupied the White House and many fear his presidency will engulf the world in a political maelstrom.
But while journalists will look back on 20 January 2017 more as DTs-Day than D-Day given the extraordinary contempt in which they are held by Trump, UK businesses are not quaking quite so much in their boots, it seems.
Matters closer to home are another matter. Amid the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, businesses warn that they will be looking for shorter leases in the future. The survey was conducted before the PM’s statement of intent this week, of course - which may assuage some of their concerns. Now at least we know it’ll be a clean (as well as a hard) exit and May certainly set out her stall with gusto.
Indeed, her strident performance echoed one of Margaret Thatcher’s many battle cries.
‘No deal is better than a bad deal, so don’t think you’ve got us over a barrel’ was the broadside our new iron lady launched at our soon to be former European partners. She also threatened to turn the UK into a tax haven if we don’t get the deal she wants, which will be music to the ears of many property players.
The downside is that companies are likely to move some of their operations out of the UK. A day after May outlined her Brexit strategy, HSBC and UBS confirmed they would move staff abroad.
The emphasis is on the word ‘some’, however.
Even if there is a larger-than- anticipated exodus of financial companies, others will fill the gap, and don’t be surprised if they hail from the UK’s tech community - Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, has just announced it is opening an international HQ in London and Deliveroo has said it intends to add 300 new tech jobs at its London office.
Call Off Duty
If occupier demand remains in relatively rude health, the same cannot be said of the high-end residential market.
The government would be wise not to dismiss anger over stamp duty reforms as affecting only the wealthy.
As we argue in our Call Off Duty campaign, it is hurting the whole housing market - and the economy.
Clean exit or no, Brexit is not going to be quick and the government could win a lot of brownie points if it listens to the industry’s demands and reforms the regime. But first of all, it has to listen. So make sure your voice is heard and sign our petition.