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Zahawi to hear divided Brexit views at UK Construction Week

The new construction minister will make his first industry appearance at the NEC in Birmingham

Posted by Julian Owen | October 09, 2019 | People, policy, politics, money

The construction industry is no less divided over Brexit than the country as a whole. 

That’s the message which will greet the new construction minister Nadhim Zahawi MP this afternoon (October 9), when he makes his first industry appearance at UK Construction Week (UKCW) in Birmingham’s NEC. 

When more than 900 construction professionals were surveyed by UKCW last month, they were asked what their one request to the construction minister and the Government would be.  

‘Get Brexit completed’ said 37%, with the vast majority of those advocating a ‘no ifs or buts’ approach. On the other hand, 32% demanded he ‘cancel Brexit altogether’. This is the approach favoured by 57% of architects, with just 15% opting for Brexit completion. 

Contractors, by contrast, are altogether more likely to back a leave position. 44% chose ‘get Brexit completed’, with just 20% endorsing ‘cancel Brexit’. 

“The splits in the construction industry’s views simply reflect what’s happening in society generally,” said Nathan Garnett, UKCW event director. “But it is a really difficult time for this sector at the moment, a sector that absolutely hates uncertainty. 

“The minister will hear this very clearly when he attends this year’s event – whether it’s deal or no deal, or cancelling it altogether, we just want to know how to prepare for the future.” 

All other issues paled behind Brexit in the survey, with the next most popular requests of the minister and Government being to:

 - speed up initiatives in construction to tackle climate change (9%)

 - cancel HS2 (4%)

 - reform planning laws and policies to make it easier to build (3%) 

Perhaps the one issue likely to unite the 30,000+ delegates expected to attend this week’s show pertains to Zahawi himself. When he was appointed to his post in July, he became the third construction minister so far this year; in a “sector that absolutely hates uncertainty”, a little stability wouldn’t go amiss.  

Find out more about UKCW here.

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