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Brexit and the unknown: what we know, what we don’t and how to prepare

Members need to consider the changes that you could experience in your professional life in the coming months due to Brexit. To help you through the quagmire of uncertainty here’s a guide to what we do know. 

26 March 2019

It has been a tumultuous few weeks in Westminster, with daily media reports revealing yet more uncertainty. The UK government has been granted an extension of Article 50 but nearly three years on from the referendum, we still don’t know what our future relationship with the EU will look like.

With Westminster, Whitehall and the media all focused on Brexit, it has been easy to forget that the decisions being taken in London and Brussels have real implications for everyone in this country. While the RIBA’s membership contains a wide spectrum of views on Brexit, the one area where we seem to have consensus is the frustration at the lack of certainty. When politicians are unable to predict what will happen next week, let alone next year, it is easy to see why many businesses are finding it difficult to prepare.

Time is running out, though, and we are urging all members to consider the changes that you could experience in your professional life in the coming months. To help you through the quagmire of uncertainty here’s what we do know:

Brexit day TBC

As it stands, it is legally, but not politically, certain that the UK will leave the EU at some point in the coming weeks. When the Prime Minister, backed by an overwhelming majority of MPs voted to trigger Article 50 in February 2017 this was a legally binding action. While the EU have accepted the government’s request for an extension, it is dependent on the UK Parliament voting to accept the Withdrawal Agreement by 12 April 2019. If this does not happen, then it is increasingly likely that the UK will leave the EU at some point in the coming weeks without a deal.

It won’t be business as usual

We might not leave the EU this month or even this year, but when we do (as is the current UK government’s plan), there will be an impact on our economy and on our society. From recruitment to accessing goods and services, the entire structure of our political system is set to shift and the relationships we have with countries around the world will alter the way we work.

No deal is predicted to impact on the health of the wider economy

If the UK government, UK Parliament and EU do not agree on the withdrawal agreement, the UK will default to World Trade Organisation terms. The UK government’s Impact Assessment on a ‘no deal’ Brexit suggests that the UK economy will be 6.3% to 9% smaller after 15 years, not taking into account short-term disruptions. This will impact the architecture sector, with products and services coming into and out of the country facing potential delays.

There’s a lot more that could be impacted in a no deal scenario, which leads us onto the final thing we do know…

Practices must prepare

The one thing we know for certain - architects must be ready for all outcomes. A no deal is likely to impact every aspect of your business and not being prepared for this will only make things worse. The government is working to prevent a no deal, but it is currently looking increasingly likely. We will be updating our no deal technical notices page with relevant information when it becomes available. Here you can find everything you need to know on what this will look like.

The country is going through a period of transition that is likely to impact us all for many years to come. Deal or no deal, we know that changes will take place. Make sure you are ready for them.

Read our no deal guidance here.

What the RIBA is doing

The RIBA has been advocating on behalf of architects since the referendum, ensuring that they are heard straight at the heart of UK government:

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