Recruiter PageGroup probably wishes it could turn the page on Brexit (it wouldn’t be alone).
The worst decision in British political history has a habit of spoiling the party when it reports results.
The company recruits professionals, white collar types who earn decent money. We’re talking between £50,000 and £150,000 annually.
Under boss Steve Ingham, it has become a global business, and its performance ranges from good to very good everywhere it operates as a booming global economy throws off lots of good, high paying jobs.
When adjusting for currency movements, profits over the first three months of the year were up 20 per cent in the Americas, 18 per cent in Europe, the Middle East & Africa, 13.8 per cent in the Asia Pacific region.
You can probably guess what’s coming: the glaring exception was the UK, which still accounts for nearly a fifth of the business. In this country, profits fell by 7 per cent.
Set against the rest of Page’s world, the UK looks like the rotten grape the skilled wine harvester discards so that it doesn’t spoil a top vintage.
Now it’s true that Easter impacted the group’s first UK quarter, and the first quarter a year earlier it compares to was relatively strong.
But full year UK earnings are still expected to be down by something like three per cent, leaving it as the lone region heading in the wrong direction.
The bluster and aggression of hardcore Brexiteers, and the mendacity of a UK Government that still refuses to be honest with the electorate, cannot disguise the impact of the decisions being taken by real people in response to their personal assessment of the situation the country faces.
Those among them with the responsibility for hiring are nervous, so they’re sitting on their hands rather than taking people on wherever they can. This at a time when their counterparts across the Channel, and across the Atlantic, and over in Asia, are beating a path to Page’s doors.
No less nervous are their employees, who are sticking with the jobs they have rather than seeking fresh pastures.
When you’re worried about the future and you have a mortgage, children, and other commitments you’re more inclined to stay put than you are to run the risk of moving, even if that means forgoing a juicy pay rise.
UK unemployment still remains very low, but those in jobs are scared that won’t last and no one wants to be the victim of last in first out when the hammer falls.
Such uncertainty is crippling the UK economy. It helps explains why it’s at the bottom of the G7 pack. The malaise will inevitably feed through to blue collar jobs too.
All this serves as yet another damning indictment of the performance of Theresa May and her ministers, who are creating more and more doubters as opposed to convincing the existing ones that they have a grip on this.