Brexit Isn’t the End of the World

June 17, 2019

Brexit—not even Shakespeare could have written such a tragedy—or comedy. On October 31, 2019, at the latest, the United Kingdom really does plan to leave the EU. The results of the European elections provided a glimmer of hope that it might remain. According to the British press agency the Press Association, the pro-remain parties won 40.4 percent of the votes, while the pro-Brexit parties garnered only 34.9 percent. The possibility of a second referendum was back on the agenda. Everything remains possible in the Brexit drama. In economic terms and for Britain as a European country, remaining in the EU would of course be the best option. But leaving wouldn’t spell doomsday either.

Brexit is not the biggest risk

According to a study by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, the annual post-Brexit loss of revenue would be 57.3 billion euros for the United Kingdom and 40.4 billion euros for the EU. For companies in the EU, Brexit would therefore initially mean financial losses—depending on how deeply rooted their business is in the United Kingdom. Most of our turnover, for example, is in the UK. We are well prepared for the various Brexit scenarios. Among other things, we at Cushman & Wakefield have a very stable infrastructure. But Brexit is by no means the biggest risk. Greater dangers are posed by a world-wide trade war, by the economic slowdown in China, and by global political instability.

A Pyrrhic victory for Frankfurt am Main

London is regarded as the EU’s financial center. In the event of a hard Brexit, the financial sector in London would lose its access to the internal European market. Both Dublin and Paris have been slated as potential successors. One factor that speaks in favor of the Irish capital is its proximity to the UK. Paris, on the other hand, has a very large market and a great image. But neither of these two cities can compete with Frankfurt am Main, which boasts an international airport, the world’s largest internet hub, high quality of life, and a cosmopolitan outlook. Its toughest competitor is Amsterdam, which offers similar advantages. For the city where Goethe was born, the new role as the EU’s financial center would mean up to 8,000 new jobs and an additional demand for up to 200,000 square meters of office space. For Frankfurt am Main this would be a Pyrrhic victory brought to it not by the city itself but by the Brexiteers.

Yvo Postleb

Managing Director Germany, Cushman & Wakefield