The political cartoonists are having a field day. Brexit is giving them so much ammunition. There’s never been a more fertile time for creative portraits of the ridiculous antics of politicians. Every metaphor you can think of has been tried at least once. For me a picture of headless chickens just about sums it up. UK MPs have had the chance to identifying a way forward but keep coming back to stalemate.
Unfortunately, that leaves the worst-case scenarios still on the table in law. The worst-case being a No-Deal Brexit outcome. Study after study shows that a No-Deal Brexit threatens to put the aviation and aerospace sector at a significant competitive disadvantage in the UK. Failure to secure a sound Brexit deal that maintains a good strategic partnership will cause significant supply chain and investment problems. We must remember that an aircraft may have over 4 million parts. These components come from all over the world to be integrated into a product.
Although some politicians remain in denial this should not come as any surprise. For one, the EU’s Single Market has over 500 million customers and an economy over 5-times bigger than the UK’s. Before 2016, the Single Market was often championed by the UK because it made it easier and cheaper for UK companies to sell their products. Now, we are in the Brexit Twilight Zone there’s a pretence that these facts don’t matter.
In a sad way, it’s ironic that many voted for Brexit and leaving the EU in June 2016 with a view to protecting their jobs in fear of globalisation. Now, UK jobs will be lost as it’s clear that the civil aviation and aerospace sector is entrenched in the EU. Miltary spending alone can not support the thriving sector we have come to take for granted.
In a recent statement, the European Commission said: “A No-Deal scenario on 12 April is now a likely scenario”. A “disorderly” Brexit by accident is still avoidable but it may mean a UK General Election or a further referendum, and if there was a long extension, there maybe participation in the 2019 European elections due to take place between 23-26 May 2019. Since there’s still no coherent strategy coming from the UK Government, I suspect a long extension is inevitable. The possiblity of a so called #flextension is already built-in to the existing treaty. This could be agreed until say; 31 December 2019. Such an extension could be shortened only if both sides agree. That would be time enough to work up a coherent strategy with a workable majority in the UK Parliament.
Update: Now the UK Prime Minister is seeking a further extension from the EU to delay Brexit until 30 June 2019. So, that’s the starting position with an aim to try to aviod European elections being needed in the UK.