Steve Bell is an acquired taste. His cartoons are topical but sharp political satire. I framed a cartoon of his years ago. It cruelly depicted the endless march of Liberal Democracy. The way I remember it was seeing lots of important characters striding purposefully on a staircase that looked like a Möbius strip. Going round and around. The cutting point being that lots of energy and industrious activity was going nowhere.
This week has been just like that cartoon depiction but for Conservatives and Labour Party’s. Walk outs, important meetings, speeches and a flurry of activity but there has been little real progress towards a practical Brexit endgame. Who would go into a room negotiating and beat yourself up in front of the party across the table?
Now, opening on March 14th is the chance that the UK House of Commons could send UK Prime Minister May back to the EU to request an extension to the Article 50 process. Even so, it’s not clear what that extra time would be used for even if it was agreed by the EU Member States.
The European Parliament (EP) has 4 plenary sessions when it can ratify the UK Withdrawal Agreement before European elections in late May this year. If this is not approved at one of those EP sessions, it’s unlikely to be voted on until after the Summer. An Article 50 extension beyond the end of June 2019 suggest that the UK should take part in European Parliament elections. A mix of interrelated events will always make this last-minute change complex but not impossible.
Extra time would seem to be wise given where we are at this moment. The latest UK Government publication on the implications for business and trade of a No-Deal exit on 29 March 2019, makes stark reading. It’s written as a summary document and so detail is missing but the message is one of lack of preparedness (no mention of aviation). With the votes in the UK Parliament delayed there’s little notice for businesses, employees, investors and communities on what may be the biggest economic and trading change they face in a lifetime.
In aviation, people are moving their approvals and licences to other States. For example, UK licenced engineers are looking to transfer their UK licences to an EASA Member State. Not everyone will need to do this and there’s no doubt that a UK license will remain of value around the world.
In addition, some provisions are being made to soften the extremes of an abrupt UK withdrawal, but the effects of a No Deal Brexit will be penalising. A so-called World Trade Organisation (WTO) No-Deal Brexit doesn’t exist for civil aviation.
 European Parliament elections will begin on 23 May and end on 26 May 2019.