Aviation & Brexit 94

Preparations for the UK’s Brexit continue but these times cannot be “normal”. New Conservative UK Prime Minister Johnson insists that the UK will leave the EU on the 31 October 2019 “do or die”.  Bellicose politicians can be inclined to use outspoken language but in this case it’s more than even the House of Commons is accustomed too.

A sharp divergence for all to see.  There’s the pragmatic and rational approach where judicious arrangements are made around an overall deal between the UK and EU.  This is not exactly a win-win but it’s to get as close to it as possible in the current climate.  At the same time, there’s the reckless push to sever relationships with only the minimum of temporary provisions at the lowest possible default conditions.   This really is the lose-lose for both UK and EU[1].

Sitting in the South East of England, as I do, I see there’s a myopic element to this foolish “do or die” attitude.  It’s a political approach that’s taken to satisfy a domestic audience as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist.  However, the rest of the world can see what is going on between UK and EU and most reports aren’t complementary.

The next European Council[2] summit is 14 days before the UK is due to leave the EU.  The agenda for that meeting in Brussels has yet to be published but Brexit is surely going to be on the list.  On 19 October there’s to be big protest march through the streets of London.  Organised by the European Movement and the People’s Vote[3] campaign this is expected to be a major historic event.   So, a full 3-years after the 2016 UK referendum the final half of 2019 is going to be a rough ride for all involved and beyond.

Aviation companies, licenced people and regulators have been preparing for Brexit from the moment the UK Prime Minister’s letter kicked-off the Article 50 process.  The stated assumption was that a UK-EU deal would be struck, and a reasonable degree of continuity would be maintained.  In an inconsistent fashion UK Prime Minister Johnson has recently said that the chances of a No Deal Brexit are a million to one.   This doesn’t seem credible given that no negotiations are on-going.

What does anyone believe in such a strange situation?  With days to go, I believe it’s wise to plan for the worst-case scenario, of a No Deal Brexit with animosity on both sides.  Services will be vulnerable to interruption. Transactions will be more complex. The regulatory framework will be uncertain.  It’s highly likely some civil aircraft will be grounded because they can’t get the right parts with the right paperwork at the right time.

Post Brexit the UK will be viewed as a “Third Country” in respect of European legislation.  A huge amount of work will be needed to re-build relationships.

[1] https://adage.com/article/digitalnext/lose-lose-beats-win-win/310805

[2] https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/european-council/2019/10/17-18/

[3] https://www.peoples-vote.uk/

 

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