17 January 2019

What the Commons’ Brexit vote means

On 15 January, the House of Commons rejected the withdrawal agreement agreed between the prime minister and the EU by 202 to 432 votes. The UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.

What happens next?

The prime minister is required to come back to the House of Commons to outline alternative arrangements on the Government’s strategy to take the UK out of the EU in an orderly way by 21 January.

Many senior government figures, including Exiting the EU Secretary Steven Barclay, have confirmed that the prime minister will continue to push for the original withdrawal agreement as the only way to achieve Brexit.

With the prospect of parliamentary deadlock, the UK faces the concrete possibility of leaving the EU without a deal, which would mean reverting to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules from 30 March 2019.

What is the NFB’s opinion?

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) has always stated how construction businesses value certainty and stability above everything else. Leaving the EU without a deal would be more catastrophic for the construction industry than the financial crisis of 2008, when it lost more than 250,000 skilled workers.

The industry does not just need to know where its businesses stand on issues concerning access to materials, employment of EU nationals, and changes to public procurement rules, but also how much time they will have to adapt.

Reverting to WTO rules would mean leaving the EU without a transition period, which is crucial for construction businesses to adapt and familiarize themselves with the new legal framework.

What can construction businesses do to prepare?

Regardless of the outcome of the negotiations over Brexit, the Government has launched a series of campaigns aiming to help both individuals and businesses prepare for Brexit.

Construction companies can receive bespoke guidance on how to prepare for the UK’s exit from the UK, if they complete a short survey of seven questions about their business which is available at www.gov.uk/business-uk-leaving-eu.

If you are looking for more information to help you prepare, you can visit the NFB’s Brexit portal at https://www.builders.org.uk/our-voice/brexit/.