The ancient adage that: “when in a hole, stop digging”, did once have meaning in British politics. No more. The rate at which deep political holes are being dug exceeds decades of measurement. As a strategy, knowing something to be a bad idea and continuing to do it should have a limited lifespan. A difficult reckoning must come. Well, that’s conventional thinking. With Brexit conventional thinking goes way out of the window.
The 2-year period provided for by Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union (EU) has been extended until Thursday, 31 October 2019. Including the summer holidays and that’s about 14 weeks away. Can a new UK Prime Minister (PM) secure a Brexit deal and is there time to get it through the UK Parliament by 31 October 31? They’d have to be a miracle worker. There’s little working time left. Little time for deal making and little time to legislate. Given past performance, it’s feasible but it’s extremely unlikely.
The prospective new PM has said that his first task will be to launch a huge No-Deal Brexit public information campaign to help minimise possible disruption. That certainly is going to be interesting in respect of air travel to and from the UK. The question is out there; will the UK Government be generous in providing financial support to businesses adversely impacted by a No-Deal Brexit?
There’s no doubt that UK airlines will be able to fly to the EU provided EU companies are permitted to fly to the UK. That’s the most basic international rules being applied. That said, at the heart of this immense political severance is the impact on people. Brexit will reduce European aviation employment opportunities for UK citizens. However, it may create new domestic opportunities as the UK struggles to construct a credible regime to replace the European system.
If the UK is to make a full departure from the European system, it would require a period in which to sign special arrangements with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other global regulators. This hasn’t happened – yet.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will need to undertake a major investment and recruitment activity if it’s to take over necessary functions, and Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreements (BASAs) with all the mutual recognition agreements needed. Such major changes from start to finish could take a decade to complete in the major global aviation markets.
I wonder what public information campaigns are going to do in the meantime.