As co-chair of the largest Brexit campaign, www.leave.eu, which has more than 750,000 supporters, it has been an extraordinary, intimidating experience taking on the establishment on behalf of the people.
The further one moves away from the M25, the more voters are concerned about matters of sovereignty, such as who controls our borders and who sets the majority of our laws. They are less impressed by politicians and international organisations trying to frighten them, especially as many of the same have been saying we should join the euro over the past 15 to 20 years.
The Brexit issue is a vitally important democratic moment in geopolitical history and a Brexit vote will be a win-win. The UK will benefit economically and as a sovereign nation. It will force the rest of the EU to properly reform; if it doesn’t it will wither on the vine.
Meanwhile, our commercial property market is healthiest when occupiers are doing well and taking space. Recent examples of global corporates such as Boeing, Avon Cosmetics and the Pentagon announcing major long-term investment commitments to the UK shows that foreign direct investment will continue to thrive here.
The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, confirmed it would maintain or increase its UK investments if we vote to leave.
Bosses at Toyota, Nissan and Vauxhall have all confirmed in recent months that a Brexit vote would make no difference to their UK growth and investment plans, nor their job levels. So ignore the scaremongers, who now desperately proclaim that global plants and animals will suffer from a ‘leave’ vote.
We at Quidnet Capital are very encouraged by lettings, rental growth and lower incentives across the UK.
Market must flatten out eventually
This is reinforced by recent Colliers research showing that regional take-up is well above both last year and the five-year average.
What is going on at ground level does not match the macro concerns being highlighted. I would rather trust the SME entrepreneurs than national and international groups with vested interests; their businesses and growth plans are doing the real talking.
Attitudes within institutional property blaming Brexit for what is actually a useful pause in the investment market could be seen as dishonest in terms of the much bigger global concerns about China and the commodities market collapse.
The property investment market cannot go up and up forever; it needs to be able to take stock from time to time, reflect and then regain its momentum. This is what is happening now.
London will still thrive as the greatest capital city in the world. Frankfurt and Paris can never provide the large numbers of quality housing and schools to attract the finest global finance people away from London, nor the required office space.
They have tried before without success. The City of London now employs 50% more people than it did in the late 1990s during the euro debate, when many senior business people said the City would go to Frankfurt if we didn’t join. Real estate will continue to benefit accordingly.
We will still of course welcome the best global talent from around the world, although in a sustainable way that seeks the right quantity and quality of immigration so that our public services can cope (at the moment, health, housing and schools are under untenable levels of pressure). This is what happened before 2004, and it seemed to work fine for decades.
Yes, there may be a short period of uncertainty post Brexit, but the medium- and long-term economic benefits, coupled with regaining our sovereign right to set our own laws and control our borders, make a Brexit vote the positive choice for a better future.
Richard Tice is CEO of Quidnet Capital