We mustn’t let cynicism guide our response to the result of the EU referendum. Let’s stay positive and use the uncertainty of Brexit to create new opportunities

Sadie Morgan

In this strange, momentous summer, it is beginning to feel like the only certainty in life is uncertainty. 

Dealing with breast cancer and its treatment at the same time as the fallout from Brexit has created a series of personal and professional challenges the likes of which I hope not to have to face again any time soon. Yet when the usual parameters of one’s work and personal life are shaken, you have to act quickly to shore up your foundations. 

I have had to place my trust in the advice of my surgeon and oncologist to give me my best chances for survival; advice that is based on experience, backed up with analysis and scientific facts, all of which can be pretty sobering when it’s written down in front of you. But by relying on the facts, rather than emotion, I’ve managed to reduce the stress of uncertainty. 

As a country, we are now having to deal with a significant shock to the economy, and together face a hard lesson in the effects of making short-term, rushed and uninformed decisions, and it’s natural that we look to government for leadership and sound advice, to people we trust to have the knowledge and skills to guide us through turbulent times. 

However different the road ahead is from that we expected, we must not let the cynicism we feel for those who have guided us to an uncertain future cloud our ambition for it

Projects that offer certainty of investment, growth and jobs are needed now more than ever. The fundamental reasons for investment in infrastructure - to boost productivity and improve quality of life - have if anything been reinforced as a result of the referendum.

It is precisely to ensure that there is greater long-term stability in infrastructure strategy during periods of uncertainty such as this, that the idea of an National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) was first put forward.

After parliamentary summer recess, the government will introduce its infrastructure bill into parliament, which among other things will put the NIC’s powers and independence on a statutory footing. 

It will take time to establish a genuinely strategic plan that cuts across the whole of the UK infrastructure sector, and we must not be diverted. Nor should we allow the crucial decisions that need to be taken in the meantime to be delayed or distorted by recent events.

Keeping the faith, and a positive mental attitude, is something we all need to strive to do. However different the road ahead is from that we expected, we must not let the cynicism we feel for those who have guided us to an uncertain future cloud our ambition for it. 

As for advice, my own recent experience has only been positive. After successful surgery I have been lucky enough to avoid both chemotherapy and radiotherapy. My life chances may be slightly less than they were a few months ago, but I feel lucky to have been reminded how important it is to make the very most of it.

As such I would encourage us all to embrace the uncertainty that Brexit has delivered, and look to the opportunities of new relationships and re-establishing old ones.

As a country we’ve been offered the chance to start a new chapter; it is up to us how we write it.

Sadie Morgan is a co-founding director of dRMM Architects. She is also the HS2 design panel chair and sits on the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission