With 2 months to go before Article 50 is enacted we are no nearer knowing what Brexit means.
Obviously the Government is not likely to reveal details which might undermine their negotiating position but it would be well advised to outline its objectives and strategy. A statement has been promised but is now well overdue.
The country expects more information and deserves better communication. In the current vacuum uncertainty and conjecture is discouraging investment and stifling planning. Boris seems to have come away from meeting the Trump transition team with some reasonable reassurances and other recent investment decisions should give the Government more confidence in making a positive statement.
Everyone is used to making big decisions in their lives. About work, relationships, about housing. It’s quite valid to say “We intend to get married next year and we will announce details later” but most people would have a indicative plan about the event, the location, the timing. Similarly house hunting. You might not know which house or which street but you can articulate an envisaged outcome.
At Weston Williamson we have just published our vision for the next 20 years and broken it down into 5 year plans. We thought at first that we keep it to the Partners in case it gave our competitors an insight into our plans. But it has been incredibly useful to share the information with the office and I have also shared it with some Schools of Architecture.
Going public with plans is important in helping to shape and to hone them.The recent leaks about hacking, about tax avoidance schemes, about drug use in cycling or tennis to me show one thing. It is far better to be open and transparent from the very start.
In politics these days few people seem to have a vision. Ideas and suggestions are either leaked or tentatively suggested so that reaction can be gauged in order to moderate, alter and revise. Martin Luther King had a dream. He didn’t suggest setting up a focus group.
I know from my work at the RIBA that there are government groups looking at each sector in turn. The RIBA as well as other institutions are feeding into research on the effects on the infrastructure sector in various Brexit scenarios. It is right that the Government gather as much information from industry as possible but surely they can inspire a bit more confidence by being a bit more communicative.
Jeremy Corbyn has been equally if not more ambiguous about plans for a UK outside the EU. I think the Government does have a plan. They should articulate it. It is a declaration. A statement of intent. Teresa May has a real opportunity to outline an inspirational vision then call a snap election to get a real mandate and unite the country.
Chris formed Weston Williamson with Andrew Weston in 1985 having previously worked in New York with Welton Becket and with Sir Michael Hopkins in London. Chris has taught at the DeMontford University and at the University of North London. Chris is currently a visiting professor at East London ...