Brexit & Aviation 114

We are now in that strange no-man’s-land between Christmas and the New Year.  Often a time when people are gathering their reflections on the year that’s passing.  It’s a time to look ahead too.  Look ahead with hope and optimism, in so far as one can.

There’s a couple of news stories floating around primed to stir-up new political conflicts as we burst into 2020.  A “will they or won’t they?” series of speculations about the rules that the City of London may or may not have to follow post Brexit is running.  Similar speculations could be applied to transport but that’s not at the top of the agenda just now.  It seems crazy to state the obvious but leaving an organisation based on law will have legal consequences regardless of the sector.

Next year, talks will proceed along the lines of the Political Declaration that was drawn-up by the two parties, in October last.  That document is non-binding but does set the tone for what the UK and EU want or wanted at the time.  No doubt a red line for the EU27 Member States in the 2nd phase of the Brexit negotiations will be a level playing field[1].  As I’ve pointed out before, in aviation technical regulations and standards are just as important as tariffs.  In my last item, I poo pooed “no alignment” because my Mr Spock like logic says; no one aims for a lose-lose outcome.  Do they?

Today, some right-wing activists are shouting; let’s get back to gallons, ounces and yards.  Having won battles like the change of the British passport colour to blue[2], there’s a group that has been emboldened by Brexit.  All British passports issued from early 2020 will be blue.  National newspapers[3] print the cry; let’s have temperature reported in Fahrenheit and liquids in pints and fluid ounces.  All this might be easily dismissed but it is as well to remember that a whole lot of things have been dismissed and then they came to be.  Unfortunately, for us appeasing a populist political trend is part of the play book of the new UK Government.  On 31 January the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) will come to an end.  The UK PM will next switch from phrases like: “Get Brexit Done” to “Taskforce Europe” to whitewash the fact that Brexit goes on and on.  At the same time the UK Parliament will become no more than a bystander in what’s to come.   

None of this retrograde thinking or smoke and mirrors is in the best interests of the Country.  We are at a time when digitisation is transforming the heart of aerospace manufacturing.  Aviation businesses are implementing significant changes to maximise opportunities in more integrated systems.  Being side-tracked into British imperial theme park romanticism will mean a declining marketplace.

These Brexit stories will be a part of the popular news in the year ahead but so will be the US Presidential race.  What happens in the US will have a global impact, especially if the incumbent is re-elected.  That will be in the foreground while EU – UK talks will be in the background until a crunch decision time comes.  There will be more than one of these crunch times throughout the year.  Expect a predicable line to be taken as the Conservatives tighten their grip on power.

[1] https://www.epc.eu/en/publications/Ensuring-a-post-Brexit-level-playing-field~26c1e0

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/passport-design-changes/changes-to-the-design-of-british-passports

[3] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/01/now-sovereign-nation-must-bring-back-imperial-units/

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