With the High Court ruling on Wednesday 3 November changing the dynamics of the Article 50 timeline, Speedy decided look at the possible Brexit and political scenarios as well as the decision’s impact on the UK economy and its cohort of contractors.
The decision in the High Court has meant that parliamentary approval will now be needed for Article 50 of the Lisbon’s Treaty to be invoked. The government looks set to appeal to the Supreme Court, but whatever the outcome it seems likely that the start of the two-year process for Britain to start negotiating its exit from the EU will be delayed. The grounds for the decision is that Britain’s EU membership under the 1972 European Communities Act falls under domestic law and not foreign policy. The government cannot therefore enforce its royal prerogative. Whichever way the Supreme Court decides to go, MPs will have their say in determining whether the country will have a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit, thereby directly influencing trade negotiations with the EU. Although greater transparency will be expected, if Prime Minister Theresa May does not want to provide a ‘running commentary’ on Britain’s exit strategy, then she may be forced to call an early general election to strengthen her position. Yet despite the backdrop of further legislative change and political unrest, and quite apart from the positive reaction of the money markets, the UK economy continues to confound observers post-Brexit. The Bank of England has had to revise its growth forecasts upwards for 2017 following official data that shows the economy has continued to grow steadily since the June vote. On the employment front, there are no signs of any slowdown or reduction in job opportunities or assignments for contractors.
Contractors plug chronic skill shortages
While the future remains uncertain for contractors and how the eventual Brexit will affect movement of labour in the EU, the process to leave will take a minimum of two years – meaning Britain will be bound by EU directives for a good while yet. If anything, the ruling should appease companies, such as financial institutions, who are threatening to up sticks and move out of the City. The recent Nissan deal, however, provided a timely boost to the economy, safeguarding thousands of jobs. A ‘soft’ Brexit would only be beneficial for contractors, particularly in sectors such as banking with many opportunities are with global financial institutions. In other industries, blighted by chronic skill shortages, the demand for talent is likely to remain buoyant for years to come. Qualified engineering contractors, for example, continue to be highly sought after in the transport, automotive and aerospace sectors while oil and gas contractors have the transferable skills that the nuclear power and renewable energy sectors need. Although the High Court ruling is seen by many as undermining the people’s vote, the ‘soft’ Brexit outcome could ensure that Britain comes out of future trade talks with an even better deal. That can only be good news for the contracting industry.