Blackfriar: Is Brexit being kicked into the long grass?

It has been a week of very good news from Yorkshire firms post Brexit.

File photo of a European Union flag in front of the Palace of Westminster Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

The latest comes from York-based housebuilder ​Persimmon, ​which said that people are cracking on with their lives and continu​e​ to buy new houses, disregarding any fall-out from the vote to leave the EU.​

Persimmon said demand has remained robust following the referendum and reservation rates have risen by 17 per cent following the vote on June 23.

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The firm said that while​ ​the result of the ​referendum has created increased economic uncertainty, customer interest since then has been robust with visitor numbers to​ ​its sites​ ​up by 20 per cent since the vote.

Brexiteer Boris Johnson is the new Foreign Secretary.

Chief executive Jeff Fairburn told The Yorkshire Post: “Our sales advisers are saying customers are not seeing any real impact on them. If they can afford the deposit they won’t be put off at the thought of Brexit. They want to get on with their lives.

“The housebuyer is not about to put their life on hold. The uncertainty is what will happen with jobs.”

So are people feeling bullish about the success of the Brexit talks? Hardly. Brexit appears to be just as unachievable as it did two months ago.

The only news we have had is about bickering between Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox​,​​ ​the dire lack of negotiators​ (The Department for International Trade has only managed to secure about 10 per cent of the trade negotiators it needs) and spe​cu​lation that Article 50 won’t actually be triggered early next year after all.

Vision...Jeff Fairburn the CEO for Persimmon, York....SH1001440e...9th June 2014 Picture by Simon Hulme

So why are people so bullish re Brexit? Is it because Brexit has been kicked into the long grass?​ ​There are ​n​o signs​ ​of it happening any time soon so people are just carrying on as normal.​ In ​fact Keep Calm and Carry On has become a new Brexit cliché.

With seven legal challenges expected to be heard in the high court in October to stop Brexit from ever happening (in what judges have described as a “matter of great constitutional importance”) and Labour leader candidate Owen Smith vowing to hold another referendum or a General Election (assuming Labour can get its house in order and kick out Jeremy Corbyn)​ ​some people are wondering if it will ever happen​.​

Who knows​? ​One look at social media chatter shows that Brexiters are​ ​getting very antsy about the prospect of it never happening.

The only thing that has become clear since the referendum is that no-one appears to have a clue what is going on.

Brexiteer Boris Johnson is the new Foreign Secretary.

Meanwhile, the costs are escalating at a worrying pace. The negotiators, economists and management consultants that will need to be recruited will reportedly cost £5,000 a day each. The total bill could be £5bn or higher and we are looking at a timescale of 10 years before trade talks are concluded.

The Leave campaign claims we should follow the likes of Switzerland, Norway or Canada, but all these countries say they’d rather have the deal the UK chose to reject.

In the meantime we still have the thorny question of free trade or free movement? Brexiters have assured us that both can be achieved. How, one wonders. Why should Germany and France give in to Britain? Such a move would pave the way for other countries to leave the EU and the whole project would be in tatters.

Prime Minister Theresa May has made sure that her Brexit trio - Johnson, Fox and David Davis (who runs the catchy Department for Exiting the European Union) - will carry the can if it all fails.

Vision...Jeff Fairburn the CEO for Persimmon, York....SH1001440e...9th June 2014 Picture by Simon Hulme

In all this confusion, Yorkshire firms are cracking on, mindful of the economic threats that lie ahead and pushing forward.

Some like Persimmon really are keeping calm and carrying on.

Others, like upmarket sausage and bacon producer Cranswick, say Brexit will provide a boost as the firm increases exports to countries like China and America following sterling’s collapse.​

At a time of great confusion, Yorkshire grit is shining through.