Study: Brexit throws £65 billion of investment into doubt

Business leaders cite the collapsing pound sterling, and future uncertainty, for the investment postponements. [MattTempest/Flickr]

Britain’s shock vote to leave the European Union has persuaded many British businesses to cancel or postpone investments worth more than £65 billion (€75 billion), a study said Monday (14 November).

The estimate was based on research from the Centre for Business and Economics Research (CEBR) think tank, Hitachi Capital and online pollsters YouGov, which recently quizzed 1,015 company bosses about investment decisions since the EU exit referendum on 23 June.

About one third of those decision makers stated that they had either delayed or abandoned investment because of Brexit.

The most frequently given reason behind this was the fall in the British pound, or the linked rise in inflationary expectations.

Other frequently cited reasons were uncertainty over Britain’s future membership of the European single market – and over Britain’s economic health in the wake of Brexit.

“Based on the responses given by businesses on the value of their investment altered for reasons related to Brexit, we estimate the total value of abandoned and delayed investments since Brexit to be £65.5 billion,” CEBR said in a statement.

“This reflects delays and cancellations to future investment, as well as current investment.”

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The consultancy added that “the industry whose firms were most likely to say they had delayed or abandoned investment because of Brexit-related factors was IT and telecoms”.

The pound has tumbled to 7.5-year lows against the euro and 31-year troughs versus the dollar since Britain voted in favour of leaving the EU, as markets priced in future economic uncertainty.

However, sterling won back some ground after London’s High Court ruled that the government must seek parliamentary approval before triggering Brexit.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will formally trigger the two-year divorce process by the end of March 2017 but Brussels and London face gruelling negotiations on a future trade deal.

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