LONDON (Reuters) – British employers cut permanent staff-hiring at the fastest rate since mid-2016, a sign that the Brexit tumult may be starting to affect Britain’s robust labour market, a survey of recruiters showed on Friday.
Demand for staff grew at the weakest pace since August 2016, shortly after the referendum result for a vote to leave the European Union, according to the monthly KPMG/Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) Report on Jobs.
The report added to a string of downbeat data from businesses ahead of Brexit, despite solid consumer spending and, up to this point, strong employment growth.
“We have a fantastic labour market that has delivered high employment and flexibility for workers because it helps companies meet their needs easily. It’s a British success story. But Brexit uncertainty has put the brakes on,” REC’s chief executive Neil Carberry said.
“Ending the uncertainty around Brexit will help firms invest and create jobs,” he added. “Firms across the country need a stable plan.”
Britain could ask the European Union for a long Brexit delay next week if crisis talks between Prime Minister Theresa May’s government and the opposition Labour Party fail to find a way out of the impasse over the divorce from the European Union.
It is nearly three years since the United Kingdom shocked the world by voting 52 percent to 48 to leave the bloc. Supporters of Brexit fear betrayal and opponents are pushing for another referendum.
(Reporting by Rachel Cordery, editing by Andy Bruce)