“OK Danny, A Landslide Victory for the Conservatives and Brexit now on its way. What are your thoughts now these key issues, at least, are a certainty?’
Chris Champion, Editor, Glass News.
My first thought is: ‘After three and a half years of ranting about the whys and wherefores of Brexit, what the hell am I going to rave about now?’ I am sure I will find something…
Along with around 230 colleagues from the window and door industry at a bash on the Thursday night of the election we went to bed with the news that exit polls were showing a Conservative majority of 86. A delightful evening with the industry’s most ardent partygoers was set to end very well indeed. Although of course, even in what one would imagine is a staunchly Conservative industry (and especially with Jezza doing his best to alienate even lifelong Labour voters) there were some amongst us that I recognise as having been vociferous in their opposition to leaving the EU.
On the long journey back to the leafless, wind and rain-swept lanes of Essex, the grey skies and miserable weather could not dampen my overwhelming feeling of relief and, although I may have been deceiving myself, I felt that throughout the day, from everyone that I met and spoke to. After three and a half years of the worst kind of political procrastination and, frankly, sabotage, the British people have overwhelmingly spoken again. And whilst I believe that there was a great deal more behind Johnson’s victory than Brexit, nonetheless people had had enough and wanted to get on with their lives.
Frankly I despise the politicians that that have dragged our country through this shameful exercise. Everyone has suffered and, whatever the outcome of the negotiations that have still to take place over what will be many months and years, we have a great deal to make up in the trade that has been lost due to the doubts that the politicians have cast over the Brexit process.
In fact, recent statistics issued by FENSA, the largest of the UK’s Building Regs compliance schemes, indicate that the market has been at best flat, with a very similar number of completion certificates issued this year to 2018. Under the circumstances that might not look too bad, but every company needs growth even to stand still, as overheads always increase; when businesses suffer then so too do their employees. This is basic common sense. Homeowners have simply not been confident enough to commit their cash, or debt, to fund home improvements when the clowns in Parliament were playing political football with our lives.
So where are we now? Contrary to many people’s view I do not believe that there will be a boom in the home improvements market although I would love to be proved wrong. There will be growth in window and door sales again but once the furore of the election result has died down, other factors will play a part in not just British, but world economics, and these may level the playing fields.
We will have enjoyed the lull created by Christmas and the New Year celebrations with a cessation of Brexit hostilities. But following the legal exit from the EU, there will be months of wrangling for deals and political sniping which will blur the lines; And we cannot forget the trade war between the US and China.
Having said that the pound will continue to strengthen and there is even a hint that interest rates will be cut by the Bank of England. And house prices will grow at a greater rate again, which in turn should stimulate house building, both of which offer opportunities for us in the window and door industry. But steady as she goes must be preferable to boom, which inevitably is followed by bust.
As much as the practical side of life I am looking forward to an end to the intense animosity that has become normal in Brexit Britiain. Whilst I resent the damage done to our businesses and livelihoods by the politicians I also regret the loss of mutual respect that this miserable period in our history will come to represent. Families have been riven apart and, whilst opposing political views are quite normal across any dinner table, it is the spite and the bile with which those views have been advanced and defended that have plumbed new depths, stabbing at the very heart of our famed British civility.
Relief was my first emotion and it is now joined with optimism: that business will improve yes, but also that harmony will be returned to our Nation, between friends, colleagues and families. And with that, a return also of basic dignity.