Caught in the crossfire?

There’s no doubt the relative calm of the beginning of this century, yes, it seems extraordinary to say that has gone and a series of international events confront civil aviation’s way of working. It’s dramatic. In Europe, most countries, and their industries are shifting the way they operate.

Unfortunately, any reasonable observation shows that the situation for aviation is worse in the UK. Well, that is worse than the UK’s former partner States in the European Union (EU).

In times of difficulty partnerships, between counties and in industry help make the absolute most of economies of scale. It’s difficult to plan when constantly firefighting. It’s like that comic story about crocodiles and draining the swam. It’s difficult to think ahead when surrounded by crocodiles.

I agree with the article posted by David Learmount[1]. The massive efforts to achieve international harmonization in aviation regulation, over decades is of incalculable value. I have been lucky enough to work with exceptional people across the globe and played a small part in helping that move along.

In fact, I’d go further than David. I remember, quite a while ago, attending a lecture at the Brooklands Museum[2]. It was about the history of post-war UK Government involvement in aerospace manufacturing[3]. It wasn’t a happy story. It went a bit like a soap opera with technical excellence mixed with commercial incompetence and political interference. The overall lesson was that going it alone, piling on the world beating rhetoric and an inability to forge working alliances spells disaster. Whereas coming together, working cooperatively, and building multinational partnership pays dividends. Airbus being a prime example.

I joined the European Union Aviation Safety Organisation (EASA) as the start of its operation. It was a huge privilege. It was a rare opportunity. I mean, how many people get to set-up a new aviation authority, let alone one that works for so many States in Europe? I was proud that the UK took a leading role in making this venture happen. It was a progression that had been careful and thoughtfully developed and steered over decades.

What we built was a uniquely European solution. It isn’t a federal construction as we see in the United States (US). In Europe, National Aviation Authorities (NAAs) remain a key part of the system. The part that was new in September 2003 was to overcome a major deficiency of earlier cooperative working. That was the unfortunate habit nation States have for saying that’ll do the same thing but then not doing the same thing in practice.

David mentions the tricky subject of UK Additional Requirements for import. This is when the UK demanded a special difference between its aircraft and those of other countries. Often expensive and making it difficult to move aircraft around. I remember some UK Additional Requirements found their way into new European requirements and others were removed. That was a painful transition period. In aviation, technical requirements are often born of experience of accidents and incidents.

Today, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) works with a set of technical requirements that have been rolled over from the UK’s time as an EASA Member State (2003 – 2021). This presents opportunities to take a new path. Sounds tempting, if only you look at the subject superficially.

International technical standards never stand still. Big players invest resources influencing the direction that they take. Two of the biggest international players in respect of aerospace design and production are EASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

So, UK CAA is caught on the horns of a dilemma. Unless it can significantly influence the big players the only practical way forward is to adopt what they produce (rules, regulations, standards, guidance material). Now, the UK CAA has considerable technical experience and maintains a high reputation, but it does not sit at all the tables where the major decisions are made.

This is the concern that David mentions in his article. The unnecessary ideological exit from EASA membership, that came with Brexit places the UK in a third-party arrangement. Not good.

It’s not like the world has suddenly become dull. Frantic development efforts and huge sums of money are being pumped into greening aviation. Part of this is the new Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). Part of this is known as Urban Air Mobility (UAM). Aviation folk love acronyms. It’s almost as if we are back at the beginning of the jet-age[4]. We know how that went.

Not surprisingly, the UK wants to achieve successes in this new field of “green” aviation.

Flying is a heavily regulated industry. So, national, regional, and international rulemaking processes matter. They matter a lot. Harmonisation matters a lot. That’s having common rules and regulations to maximise the size of the marketplace while ensuring levels of safety and security are high.

The bureaucratic burden of Brexit costs. It’s not free. The UK duplicates rulemaking activities because it must independently update its laws, all the secondary legislation and guidance material that comes with aviation. When there’s a significant difference between UK, Europe, US, and the rest of the world it makes business more complex. Often that added complexity comes with no discernible benefits (economic, social, safety, security, or environmental).

The UK should become an EASA Member State once again. Why not? Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Lichtenstein are not in the EU but are EASA Member States. Across the globe countries follow EASA rules as they are known to deliver the best results.


[1] https://davidlearmount.com/2022/06/17/uk-aviation-caught-in-the-crossfire/

[2] https://www.brooklandsmuseum.com/

[3] https://www.aerosociety.com/media/8257/government-and-british-civil-aerospace-1945-64.pdf

[4] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/comets-tale-63573615/

Island chaos

Aviation is an international industry. Britain has been “No longer an Island”[1] for over 120 years. As the Wright Brothers demonstrated practical powered flight, so the importance of sea travel began a decline. Nothing in history has shaped the British more than our island status. Living on an island has moulded attitudes, character, and politics.

The illusion of absolute national autonomy and sovereignty is shattered by the interconnection and interdependencies established by flight. Aviation’s growth encouraged a lowering of impediments between nations and geographic regions. In some respects, this has been a two-edged sword. On the one hand, there’s more cooperative working across the globe than there has ever been. On the other hand, conflict crosses natural barriers with much greater ease.

Affordable rapid air travel and growing freedom of movement have been a great boom in my lifetime – the jet age. At the same time, it’s not new that nationalist politicians continue to fear the erosion of difference between the British and the nations of continental Europe, brought about by commercial aviation. Ironically, it’s now the newer digital industries that pose the greatest threat to the illusion of complete independence.

In this context the failure to tackle the critical understaffing at British airports is deep rooted. Lots of finger pointing and experts blaming each other with a catalogue of reasons misses the damage that’s being done by nationalist “conservative” politicians.

Staffing shortages, poor planning and the volume of people looking to travel have led to huge queues and many flight cancellations across UK airports.

Yes, today’s travellers have learnt to take a great deal for granted. They are no longer impressed with the ability to check their emails and watch a movie at 30,000 feet above the sea. So, when the basics go wrong, and flights are seemingly arbitrarily cancelled, queues are long and delays are frequent, the backlash is real.

A UK Minister’s[2] reluctance to restore some freedom of movement to European aviation workers to alleviate the current chaos is an example of blindness to reality. Looking at the historic context, I guess, we should not be surprised that this dogmatic UK Government is so blinkered. Any acknowledgement that the imposition of Brexit is a big factor in airport chaos is far more than their arrogant pride can take. Sadly, expect more problems.


[1] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4254465-no-longer-an-island

[2] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/government-transport-secretary-bbc-gatwick-covid-b2092887.html

Weights and measures

Contrary to the twisted rhetoric coming from the Conservative Government, the European Union (EU) never forced UK to abandon imperial measurements. The cheap politics played with this subject is designed to create a false narrative. Sadly, one that got an extensive outing during the Brexit referendum debates in 2016. The UK adopted metric measurements in the mid-1960s, with historic imperial measures continuing beside metric. Miles, pints, yards, and alike are part of everyday British life. There’s no public demand to change the status quo. That is, except for die-hard campaigners and jingoistic journalists. Conservative propaganda on imperial measurements is a distraction from the real and dramatic increases in the cost of living.

Consumers and industry benefit from international standardisation. It eases and enables economies of scale, price transparency, movement of goods and education and training. Major UK retailers have commented that returning to solely imperial weights and measures is complete and utter nonsense. It’s a romanisation of lost era when the map was coloured pink with the British Empire. Modern Britain needs the best set of measures available.

Calling proposals to bring back imperial units a Brexit “opportunity” prompts genuine despair amongst many people. Today, the UK pragmatically works between some remaining imperial units and the universal metric system, as used almost everywhere else in the world.

The decimal system for currency was introduced in 1971. Factors of ten are now ingrained in the education and training of everyone in the UK. I’m sure, noone sane wants to reverse decimalisation. If they, do it’s probably a tiny cohort of people who prefer Roman numerals and Latin to be used in all public documents. Living in the past, and returning to shillings and pence will just make people poorer.

Bringing back imperial measurements, as primary weights and measures would signal to the world that the UK prefers to be seen as a living museum rather than a progressive nation.

Even those politicians promoting such ridiculous proposals haven’t thought it through. Just imagine filling up a British car with petrol listed in gallons rather than litres. It took a long time to make that transition. When petrol was last listed in gallons the price was under £2 per gallon. Now, the pumps would show over £8! Whatever the logic, the public reaction to that sharp change would be vocal. Demands for an immediate cut in fuel duty would likely follow.

The Conservative Government’s consultation maybe heavily loaded but it’s important that people respond. There’s no good reason to issue a blank check for a foolish policy.

Choice on units of measurement: markings and sales – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Make your views known. Let’s not go backwards. The past should enlighten, not suffocate.

Post Note: As inflation rages on, so it has been reported that a full tank of petrol, for the average car, now costs over £100 in the UK. Media reports chose not to use imperial or metric units to describe this price hike in their headlines. The new unit is: One Tank. When comparing petrol cars with electric cars, I suppose it can usefully to use this to equate to One Charge. Our lexicon of common units continues to evolve.

Gap Grows

“One rule for them. Another rule for us.” It’s always an emotive slogan. It’s not my favourite saying in a time of great political polarisation. First you must see yourself as, one of us. Second you must see them as alien and privileged.

In a divided society this slogan gets thrown around like candy. However, it has a core truth in it. Inequality is a fixture in England. It was fine for Blair and Brown to say: education, education education, but they only shifted the dial a small amount.

Recently, I did a guided tour around a well-known English public school. Its history is fascinating, and some notable people have gone through its doors. The experience of schooling in that place is a huge leg up on prospects. There’s absolutely no way that a state school experience can match up.

One of the factors is the huge resources focused on creating opportunity for each pupil. Another, advantage is the closeted environment that creates a private network of lifelong contacts.

What then of “levelling up”? As a political slogan it seems to imply an almost communist attempt to increase the wellbeing, opportunity, and quality of life for every single citizen to a new common level. That makes me wonder why equivalents like eliminate poverty or prioritise education or fix climate change aren’t getting a look in.

Could it be that “levelling up” is in fact “covering-up”? Objective measures say that the gap between the richest in society and the rest of the population has widened over 10-years[1]. Rather than a natty political slogan surely corrective action to address this gap is needed.

This year household finances are going to be under extreme pressure. A cost-of-living crisis is upon us. It’s not just energy bills. It’s post-COVID-19 business failures. It’s supply chain chaos made worse by BREXIT. It’s incompetence and waste in Government responses.

Unfortunately, this Conservative Government has forfeited any trust people may have had in it. Trust matters if solutions to our challenges are to be met and overcome. Trust is broken when one privileged group demands the right to cling to power regardless of circumstances.

There’s need for urgent action. There’s need for a new plan. There’s need for a new Government.


[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/incomeandwealth/bulletins/householdincomeinequalityfinancial/financialyearending2020

A Year On

Here we are with one year of Brexit under our belts, and the unmitigated disaster that it is couldn’t be clearer. No European Union (EU) Member State has shown any interest in following the UK and departing from the block. If anything, observing the negative impact of Brexit on the UK has strengthened unity within EU. The end-of-year review of Brexit by Bloomberg finds not a one economic positive and a lot of significant damage[1]. It’s not alone either. Finding positives is like the search for the Yeti.

Such is the great embarrassment of Brexit that UK civil servants are told not to mention it. Brexit does not mean Brexit anymore. It means shush be quiet.

There is little doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the focus away from the effects of Brexit and allowed the UK Government to avoid the scrutiny that would normally be applied. So far, worldwide COVID-19 deaths total 5,410,921 (Source: Johns Hopkins). Thankfully the extensive vaccination programmes across the globe are working. New Year’s Eve parties will be going ahead in England. Nevertheless, there’s an atmosphere of caution and it’s likely that 2022 will arrive to muted celebrations.

There’s no rational way of explaining why the Conservative Government in power enacts policies that they know will damage the Country’s strength, safety, security, economy, and social fabric. The only explanation is a ridged adherence to dogmatic arrogance, preventing any acceptance of responsibility for the outcome of past decisions. There can be no rational explanation for a trading Nation that chooses to erect trading barriers with its closest neighbours, at a time of considerable global uncertainty[2]. Origin of manufacture customs regulations begin on 1st January 2022 for goods exported from the UK to the EU. This is yet more red tape that will impact UK exports and livelihoods.

Claims made in 2016 that food prices would fall, tax and energy bills would be lower post-Brexit are now completely farcical. It’s true that people were warned that these claims didn’t stand-up but that didn’t deter those who made those outlandish statements. Many of those who made such statements have profited from the last 5-years of troubles. If not always in financial terms they have profited in terms of power and influence[3].

Some of the architects and managers of Brexit have chosen to resign to escape responsibility for the self-inflicted wound. However, a significant advocate of Brexit remains in post. UK Prime Minister Johnson still resides in Number 10 Downing Street. I wonder for how much longer.

If the pandemic has taught us anything it is that the solution to global problems is collaboration. Acting in splendid isolation may appease a small domestic political audience for the short term but longer term it is a hopeless approach. Working togther to meet global challanges is the way forward.

Brexit simply isn’t working and those that have been dealing with it can see a looming crash. The UK starts the New Year with so many Brexit issues still unresolved. Sadly, Brexit supporters continue to pump out fibs and practice chicanery. But slowly and surly the great British public are beginning to wake up and the political tide is turning. 


[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-12-22/how-a-year-of-brexit-thumped-britain-s-economy-and-businesses

[2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-59761292

[3] Examples can be seen by looking at the list of those elevated to the House of Lords.

Bury the Past

Politics does descend into absurdity. It’s not unique to our time. What important is that we don’t ignore what’s going on. That approach just abdicates power to the worst amongst us. Attention must be paid to uproot any burying of the past. Corrective action must be taken to re-establish competency and trust.

An absurdity of the moment is the pretence that what happened in the past is irrelevant. That no one in power is answerable for past events. Even those newsworthy events that are relatively recent. This political strategy elevates talk of future actions to cover-up the deficiencies and negligence of the past.

We’ve heard from a Minister of Justice saying that a suspect crime, that happened a year ago, is not the sort of event that the requires investigation. He’s saying that past mistakes and stupidly can escape scrutiny. For any member of the public, a law degree is not needed to know that this is absurdity. It’s right that questions be asked at the highest level.

The UK’s Prime Minister seems intent on concealing any revelations about a Christmas party that may or may not have taken place in No 10 Downing Street[1]. To deny the past is not sustainable. The open display of a culture that ignores rules is shameful[2]. If this proves to be the case strong corrective actions, including resignations would be appropriate.

In addition, there’s a bad habit of saying that criticism of past actions is only “hindsight”. That word is used to diminish the importance of an important issue. What’s worse is that it’s used to justify ignoring fair questions or legitimate criticisms.

Absurdity becomes the norm when this political strategy is used frequently and with little thought. A default position that says, all past events are irrelevant is dangerous and rapidly erodes credibility. A position that then justifies lying to bury past events is supremely crooked.

Conservative politicians in Westminster have got themselves into this extremely bad habit. It’s an arrogant assertion that accountability is for other people. It’s an attempt to by-pass the checks and balances that are necessary in any successful democracy.

As inflation rushes to exceed 5%, the denial that Brexit has had anything to do with this is another absurdity. This habit of burying the past extends to supply chain problems and a decline in trade[3].

Parliament needs to rise and challenge these absurdities. The fabric of our democracy is fraying.

Government credibility is sinking in the quicksand of denial.


[1] https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/uk-pm-johnson-under-fire-over-christmas-lockdown-party-2021-12-08/

[2] https://news.sky.com/story/this-party-is-not-going-to-be-investigated-by-the-police-in-a-years-time-rees-mogg-jokes-about-government-christmas-parties-12489616

[3] https://ukandeu.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/The-impact-of-Brexit-on-UK-services.pdf

Flight, Risk & Reflections 17.

One of the harshest years in modern civil aviation history has ended.  Looking for positive news in this New Year takes some effort.  In fact, with the extra lock-down measures and travel banned the situation appears to be getting worse and not better.  Worldwide COVID-19 fatalities have passed 2.1 million[1]. Here in the UK the winter situation is looking grim.  In terms of cases of COVID-19 only US, Brazil, Russia and India have more than the UK.  In terms of fatalities from COVID-19 only US, Brazil, India and Mexico have more than the UK. 

Even in just 3-weeks a lot has been written about Aviation and the new BREXIT EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). Having read many of the public pronouncements available, it’s evident that the complexity of the TCA means there’s a huge amount to be learned and will be learned in its application.  The jury is out as to the level of support that exists for the TCA. 

Here are some useful current references:

  • Brexit advice for travellers:

https://www.abta.com/tips-and-advice/brexit-advice-for-travellers

https://www.iata.org/en/policy/consumer-pax-rights/brexit/

  • Aviation industry comments:

Initial guidance on the draft EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

The ACA Position Paper – EU-UK Trade Agreement 2020.

How the Brexit-deal affects UK/EU air travel and aviation.

How the Brexit-deal affects UK/EU air travel and aviation » AirInsight

How Brexit will Change the Aviation Industry.

GTP Headlines How Brexit will Change the Aviation Industry | GTP Headlines

Consequences of the Brexit Agreement on transport, and especially on aviation.

Consequences of the Brexit Agreement on transport, and especially on aviation – Aviation24.be

Brexit: what the newly announced deal means for aviation.

https://www.gridpoint.consulting/blog/brexit-what-the-newly-announced-deal-means-for-aviation

Solo flight – the UK’s Brexit deal for aerospace assessed.

https://www.aerosociety.com/news/solo-flight-the-uks-brexit-deal-for-aerospace-assessed/

Brexit – will the flying public notice any meaningful difference?

https://www.clydeco.com/en/insights/2021/01/brexit-will-the-flying-public-notice-any-meaningfu

  • Official information:

The UK CAA microsite.

https://info.caa.co.uk/uk-eu-transition/

Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) system. 

https://www.easa.europa.eu/brexit


[1] https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

Flight, Risk & Reflections 15.

A large full moon graced the December sky early this morning. The local park was a picture of frosty ground, joggers and dog walkers, magpies and one or two wrens hopping around as the sun rose.  I looked up and slithers of cloud gave a reddish hew to the eastern sky. I remembered the farmer’s rhyme: Red in the morning, shepherds warning. Also, clear to me was the absence of aircraft streaking across the cold sky.  I’m located only a few miles north of London Gatwick airport.  Last December the same scene would have included aircraft contrails going left and right as morning flights arrived and departed London. 2020 is a year like no other.  In this pandemic year worldwide, deaths now approach 1.8 million. 

The UK left the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020.  A Withdrawal Agreement that the UK Government agreed with the EU established a transition period that comes to an end in a couple of days.  I think many people are mighty relieved that the UK and EU reached an agreement in principle on Thursday 24 December 2020. This is about as last minute as it was possible to be in the long negotiations. 

All being well, a new agreement between the EU and UK should start from New Year’s Day, 1 January 2021.  This EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement includes obligations on both parties for air transport and aviation safety. Again, many people will be mighty relieved that these topics are addressed.  In all I’ve written in this blog there’s been much speculation about the road ahead. Now, for the first time in four and a half years we have some indication of what comes next.  Like any long story, it’s not all good and its not all bad. 

There are implications for all aspects of European aviation.  In air transport, UK aircraft operators will not have the freedoms of the past. They may need to restructure to be able to offer comprehensive services to the destinations currently flown. Low-cost operator Ryanair is implementing voting restrictions on company shares owned by non-EU nationals from New Year.

It’s good to see the emphasis on cooperation[1] on aviation safety.  New dedicated committees will look at how to work together in the future.  I hope they work at a technical level and renew cooperation rather than further politicising inter-institutional relationships.  Regulatory duplication and barriers need to be avoided.  Now, practical processes and procedures must make good on the promise of close cooperation. The need to ensure implementation of aviation safety rules and regulations has not diminished.

It’s interesting to note that each party to the agreement may request consultations at any time concerning the safety standards maintained and administered by the other party in areas relating to aeronautical facilities, flight crew, aircraft and the operation of aircraft.  This suggests conditions for dealing with the immediate outcome of aircraft accidents and serious incidents but it’s not explicit.  As I found in the early days of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), from 2004 a lot depends on how the relevant legal texts are interpreted. One small sentence can mean much if the parties choose to make it so.  A deal maybe agreed but this is not done. This is the start of work that can build a successful aviation system.  With good will on both sides this can happen, but it will take a decade of effort. 


[1]The Trade and Cooperation Agreement establishes the following Specialised Committees:……

(b) The Specialised Committee on Air Transport;

(c) The Specialised Committee on Aviation Safety;

Flight, Risk & Reflections 12.

Ready for anything[1]. It’s a good position to take when no one can predict what might happen next. Such is the uncertainty that prevails. In a month and a bit, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will be reverting to where it was when it was formed in the 1970s. All alone. Before 1972, regulation of civil aviation was the responsibility of the Air Registration Board (ARB). The CAA was established as a “modern” arms length regulator to act in the public interest. It did this successfully and drove European cooperation to become influential and highly respected.

Without agreement, being a British traveller, to and from the European Union (EU) after 1 January 2021 will not be much fun, to say the least. That said, the low levels of international travel in prospect, because of COVID-19 might well mask the full impact of new procedures and lost privileges. Although British passports will not command the seamless freedom of movement we have enjoyed for decades, there maybe some travel bargains to be had in the New Year.

Fishing is one of the roadblocks in UK-EU negotiations[2]. It would be immensely sad, and stupid if agreement on 99.9% of the issues fell based on not being able to compromise on fishing.  Aviation has the potential to lift us all out of economic gloom. Fishing will do no such thing. Publicly embracing failure is not a good strategy for a British Prime Minister (PM).

Unfortunately, the Brexit headbangers are still the Brexit headbangers.  These people exert disproportionate influence. Although it maybe politically cynical, the PM has a large majority in Parliament and the EU remains a bogyman to distract the British people from the pandemic pandemonium, so the No-Deal horse continues to run.  That tired nag should have long since been retired.

Where there is incompetence in Government, the official Opposition should be shedding light on it in Parliament. On Brexit, the largest Opposition Party in the UK is just as much in the mire as the Conservatives. Backing a lastminute deal, if negotiations succeed in coming days, maybe their final kick in the teeth to the 48%.

The UK Government is advising domestic businesses that “getting ready takes longer than you think”. Having given close attention to the last 4-years ups and downs, that warning should be applied to any discussion of British political decision-making. The wind and weather change rapidly over the British Isle and so do the ebbs and flows in and around Westminster. So, it does take a long time for a settled state to arise. Stability is much valued by aviation businesses that need to make long-term investments. Being hit by a double whammy of COVID-19 and Brexit is destroying otherwise viable aviation businesses[3]. But here we are in November 2020, still waiting for a “moment of truth”. 


[1] https://worldofaviation.com/2020/11/uk-working-to-mitigate-brexit-risks-as-deadline-looms/

[2] https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-fish/britain-not-accepting-eus-fish-offer-on-brexit-the-sun-idUSKBN2871EC

[3] https://twitter.com/ADSgroupUK/status/1330855509491142657?s=20

Flight, Risk & Reflections 11.

Next year, whatever happens with COVID-19 there will be a focus on limiting greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.  In a way, the virus has already had a positive environmental impact. Less efficient aircraft are being pensioned off earlier than would otherwise be.

The European Union (EU) has said it will take part in the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) scheme from the start of its voluntary phase on 1 January 2021[1].

The COP26 United Nations (UN) climate conference will take place in a years’ time, between 1 and 12 November 2021 in Scotland[2]. All eyes will be on climate change

On the political climate, Downing Street dramas rival the most notable soap operas. That said, White House dramas still get top billing[3].  Some people raise the question: will the UK Government be more “collaborative and cooperative” after Dominic Cummings’ departure[4]?  Will UK Prime Minister (PM) Johnson now be exposed? I’m remined of the saying about being indispensable. If you think you are indispensable, get a glass of water and place your finger in it. Then remove the finger and observe the hole.

The Brexit trade talks enter another weekend with few signs of progress visible. Deadlines loom large in the volumes of commentary built on scant knowledge of what’s really going on. A crunch moment will come in the last week of November.

Some people say this PM is indecisive and will “cave in” on the UK’s relationship with the EU. I don’t think a radical change of direction is on the cards. The fundamental asks of a Tory Brexit haven’t changed. It’s a demand for privileges without the accompanying obligations. A Free Trade Area with a bigger neighbour with no constraints. Every time a constraint is mentioned the echo of sovereignty resounds around the room. It gets ridiculous as hard core Brexiters puff up their chests and say: you don’t show me no respect. 

Reality is reality. The EU would be unwise to let a powerful non-member have unfettered access to its market without contributing to the whole.  A problem with Dominic Cummings’ departure is that we are likely to see the Vote Leave people taking no responsibility what-so-ever for the world in 2021.  Instead when difficulties arise, they will apply their formidable campaigning skills to high power finger pointing. 

On the basis that the PM is an unscrupulous carpetbagger there will be a thin deal with the EU.  It will be presented as a great British success and the rest will be – work it out as you go along.   


[1] https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2020/06/25/aviation-emissions-eu-confirms-its-participation-in-the-corsia-voluntary-phase-from-2021-and-chooses-more-ambitious-option-to-calculate-its-offsetting-requirements/

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-dates-agreed-for-cop26-united-nations-climate-change-conference

[3] https://twitter.com/CBSNews/status/1327461255762817026?s=20

[4] https://twitter.com/standardnews/status/1327577348959514625?s=20