Brexit & Aviation 113

As we have found over the last 3-years and more, reports and reality are often far apart.  Being reported is that the British Prime Minster (PM) is saying that there will be “no alignment” with the European Union (EU) after Brexit is done[1].  Boosted by a UK Parliamentary majority this stark statement maybe no more than playing to the galleries.

However, political positions are hardening.  The UK Government has excluded an extension of the transition period and enshrine this in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB).  Many believe that this is not a good-faith implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the EU.

Now, the UK Parliament’s role in scrutinising any future relationship has been diminished.  So, if EU-UK negotiations go badly there’s no holding back the hard-core right-wingers who are unconcerned if the UK reverts to trading on only WTO terms.

So quickly to become bullish is a high-risk strategy. Having been at this process for so long it’s likely the EU will remain united and undaunted by the threat of a breakdown in talks.  Afterall, it deals with States that are bigger and more powerful than the UK.  So, maybe the UK PM is still primarily speaking to a domestic audience.  As the slogan “Get Brexit Done,” used by the Conservative Party in their 2019 General Election messaging fades into the background, the UK’s place in the world seems more vulnerable[2].

The aviation sector relies on long-term commitments to regulated markets.  Global investment is more likely with an assurance of stability and a sense of direction.  Contrary to right-wing political opinion good regulation benefits growth.  At the same time, it benefits sustainability as unprecedented climate change continue to escalate.

Thinking about how to achieve a close and constructive relationship with the EU is vital.  The practical downsides of Brexit is starting to become evident[3].  It could be that the political struggle for a Brexit is ending an initial stage.  Now, the daunting task to define Brexit is only just starting.

If anyone considers it’s easier for the UK to pivot towards the United States rather than the EU they are in for a shock.  Federal law governing international aviation less flexible and more complex than EU law whatever some may wish you to think.  Reality will bite quickly and not to the advantage of the UK.

There will be people thinking about these challenges over Christmas and the New Year.  Most of us will be happy not to hear a Brexit word or a three-letter abbreviation for a couple of weeks.  2019 will not be missed.  It’s quite enough to know that 2020 will be full of breaking news and tantrums about the ups and downs of this continuing saga.

[1] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/12/20/boris-johnson-insists-will-no-alignment-eu-brexit/

[2] https://aviationweek.com/defense-space/getting-brexit-done-brings-defense-challenges

[3] https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/uk-news/huge-changes-british-holidaymakers-flying-17440064

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