Brexit: Stay or Leave? Thoughts from the Construction Industry

brexitwordleWell the results are in from our latest survey of those in construction. Stay or Leave? What’s best for the sector? And why did you choose your answer.

On 23rd June, the UK will settle the much debated question; should Great Britain remain within the European Union? Or leave and go it alone?

We recently sent out an email asking you to have your say, on behalf of the construction sector, over whether Britain should ‘remain’ within the European Union, or ‘leave’ it. Thank you to everybody who voted and thank you to those who took the time to leave a comment.

And the results are in:

59.4% think it’s best for the construction sector if we remain in the EU, with 40.6% voting to leave.

Interestingly, this vote seems to coincide with the current opinion polls as, in an analysis for the Telegraph, political strategist Sir Lynton Crosby suggests the Remain campaign has persuaded more voters of the case for staying in the EU. This was evidenced by a vote where 52% wanted to remain, 43% said they would opt to leave and 5% didn’t know.

While both polls are leaning towards Britain remaining in the EU, it is clear to see that there is a divide in opinion within the construction sector. Will leaving the EU cause too much of strain on construction firms when acquiring skilled and unskilled labour? Or will an end to the red tape and regulation from Brussels mean that the British construction industry is better off out of the EU? Let’s examine what everyone has had to say, starting with those who voted to remain.


One of the first commenters said that, “Staying in the EU will enable us to continue to supply our products into Europe without more interference than there already is.”

Another popular view is that remaining in the EU is a safer choice. This is echoed by the head of a London-based construction business who said, “It’s madness to leave a huge business club like the EU in favour of an old-fashioned isolationist view of the UK as a stand-alone mini US or maxi Switzerland. Besides which the cost of exit has simply not been calculated at all.”

He then highlighted the direct impact that leaving the EU can have on a construction company, by adding, “We are currently bidding for an EU contract that will only be awarded after June. I don’t know if we will be automatically disqualified on Brexit!”

This confusion was addressed by a senior estimator at a Cambridge firm, who commented, “Nobody really knows the implications at present; the general person does not understand the pro’s and con’s at this stage.”

Finally, comments such as the following showed that there is uncertainty regarding the future of the markets. “It’s better for construction if we stay in the EU. We are seeing even now disruption to construction investment merely due to the fact of the vote. This market uncertainty will continue for a period whatever the result on June 23rd and this will continue to impact negatively upon construction investment. I believe that market confidence will take longer to return and construction investment will suffer a longer lasting negative impact if we decide to leave the EU.”


A firm from Hull was quick to dispel fears regarding labour, offering a solution. “Rather than importing skilled construction (and unskilled) from the EU it would be more incumbent upon contractors to ensure a steady chain of home-grown apprentices happens. Companies should be funding training without the need for additional support from the government as it is in their own interests. Forget shareholders for a moment and look at the bigger picture.”

A few patriotic comments included a Quantity Surveyor who wanted to leave the EU so that, “We retake control of our own destiny, make our own laws, control our borders and eradicate the stupid bureaucracy.” While another comment from an architect at a Burford firm claimed that, “The EU administration is costing our clients & our nation a fortune on irrelevancies.”

A comment from one ‘leave’ voter was, “I have not heard anything to convince me that it is better to stay in.” while another from a Director of a construction firm outlined his reasons to leave – saying, “I believe that our country would be financially stronger after the initial shock waves. If the pound becomes a little weaker for a while then it will make our imports more expensive and exports more attractive – nothing wrong with that. We would almost certainly negotiate a tariff free trade deal with Europe because we buy a lot more than we sell.”

Will Brexit happen?

While the poll showed that nearly 60% of you would be set to vote to remain on behalf of the construction industry, it is difficult to say whether that will reflect the outcome on 23rd June. In fact, a survey by Smith & Williamson at the start of 2016 found that only 15% of construction executives favoured a UK exit from the European Union, so perhaps the campaign to leave is actually gathering momentum, rather than the other way around as political strategist Sir Lynton Crosby suggested.

Staying or leaving issues aside, if you want to develop and grow within the UK or Europe, let us help you do just that. Call to find out how we can assist you

For more information on this post, please visit the main site or call the main office on 0843 506 5202.

3 Responses to “Brexit: Stay or Leave? Thoughts from the Construction Industry”
  1. Michael Mortimer says:

    I will definitely be voting to leave the EU. Economic factors should not be the main issue. Anybody who says they can tell us what the effects of staying or leaving will be should not be trusted because they are completely unpredictable. Traditionally we are a trading nation, used to making our own laws and regulations. We are not used to being ham-strung by un-elected officials in Brussels. Let us get back to being an independent country controlled by our own elected Government.

    Our constitution is second to none and the envy of the World. It is being undermined by membership of the EU!

  2. we should have a steady home grown supply of apprentices to qualify

  3. David Birkett says:

    With the uncertainty of the future behaviour of the new White House occupant in either case, keeping our head down behind the European wall seems best; marginally.