Mark Casci: Brexit is years away, let's not talk down our economy
Indeed it has been difficult to read any company reports or financial news without the B-word coming up (a neologism that was incidentally first published in The Yorkshire Post in a column by former Rotherham MP Denis MacShane).
We are now entering a new plateau in the Brexit saga, wherein data appears to be suggesting that the economy is in many cases arriving back at pretty much the same place it was on June 22.
Information published yesterday showed our services sector, still worth £4 of every £5 spent in this country, had returned to growth already.
While some fear it is a mere “dead cat bounce” - one of the more ludicrously beautiful phrases in the English language - others such as Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, say that the encouraging data may mean the UK economy is on course to avoid the widely-predicted recession we would enter were we to vote for leaving the EU.
This has followed well-researched reports showing that consumer confidence and positivity among the small business sector has picked up in recent weeks. Similarly some of our biggest companies have all published increasingly positive outlooks for next year.
None of this has happened as a result of Brexit. That would be impossible. How could it be? Brexit has not happened yet, and in all likelihood it will not happen for at least 30 months.
Research from Willis Towers Watson, published in today’s Business Tuesday shows the majority of companies have decided on a “wait and see“ policy with regards to how they will deal with life outside of the European Union.
They are doing the right thing.
We are still in the European Union. We still have access to the Common Market. We still have the same trade agreements we have had for decades. And we are still open for business.
This is a message that we must not lose sight of, lest we bring damage and pain to our economy in the short-term and create a climate of pessimism as we enter the most important period of international negotiation since the end of World War II.
There has unquestionably been some change. Interest rates have reduced slightly and Sterling has fallen sharply. But unemployment, construction and retail sales generally have moved very little.
The remainder of this decade will be spent trying to craft a new economic reality for our nation but we must not seek to prejudge this and avoid at all costs talking our economy down.
Of course there is uncertainty but we are still doing business and bearing witness to success.
Little over a month after we voted to leave the EU the largest investment ever committed by China to the UK outside of London was announced in Sheffield. Excitement is building in East Yorkshire as Hull prepares for its year as City of Culture. And large-scale infrastructure projects such as HS2 and HS3 remain on the books, despite a change of political administration.
The referendum laid bare a yawning chasm of division in our country but one thing I am sure we can all agree upon is that we want out economy to succeed and thrive. We will not achieve this by fixated on something which has yet to happen.
Of course our politicians must develop a deal that will deliver for the whole country and it must be subject to robust scrutiny. But we cannot allow the debate to permeate every aspect of economic activity for the next two-and-a-half-years.
George Harrison penned the track “Be Here Now” in 1971 for his Living in a Material World Album, (a title that Britpop band Oasis would purloin for their colossally overblown third album.
It may not be the most catchy tune the Beatle ever composed but it the message is one we should all be humming.