More than 100 chief executives will meet at the end of the month to discuss implications of leaving EU

mark reynolds

The Construction Leadership Council is to convene a high-level emergency summit on Brexit, in the wake of growing fears over the impact on the industry of crashing out without a deal.

The summit, titled the Brexit Transition Planning Conference, is to be held on 28 January at the ICE’s headquarters in central London. It will see more than 100 industry chief executives brought together to discuss how to mitigate the fall-out from leaving the EU.

Mace chief executive Mark Reynolds, a member of the government-backed Construction Leadership Council (CLC), told Building the CLC decided just before Christmas to convene the summit, primarily to look at addressing the problems created by a possible no-deal EU exit. Initial invites were sent out last week.

Reynolds (pictured) said: “This is a Brexit contingency planning conference. The view we’ve taken is that the industry needs to hope for the best but plan for the worst.

“The idea is it will look at both issues of goods being held up and access to labour, but at the moment the real fear is over goods. My immediate worry is about imports and exports, it’s the biggest short-term risk.”

In a survey of readers published last week, Building found that just 15% of firms said they were “very prepared” for a no-deal Brexit, and more than half said they had engaged in no scenario planning to test how they might be affected.

Experts have expressed fears over the impact upon projects if imported materials are significantly delayed entering the country, as well as concerns over the potential for labour shortages.

About 15% of products and materials used in UK construction and 7% of the workforce derive from the EU. Reynolds said all the relevant trade associations and around 120 industry chief executives were being invited to the event.

Fellow CLC member Simon Rawlinson, head of strategic insight at consultant Arcadis, confirmed the event would focus on the “real-life implications on projects” of Brexit over the next six months, but that its exact programme would be very dependent on political developments over the next couple of weeks. If the danger of a no-deal Brexit recedes, he said, the focus of the summit would shift away from the logistics of product imports to longer term concerns around labour availability.

Sarah McMonagle, director of external affairs at trade body the Federation of Master Builders, which received an invitation to the summit this week, welcomed the move. “It’s great to see this leadership from the CLC on this important issue,” she said.