U.K. aviation, freight groups clash over possible Brexit negotiation …
A full week after the surprise results of the U.K. general election that denied the Conservative Party a majority in Parliament, more aviation and freight groups are weighing in about possible delays in the negotiations over Great Britain’s planned exit from the European Union, or the “Brexit.” The traditional “Queen’s Speech” that Queen Elizabeth II reads to the sitting Prime Minister to ask for a new government, may be delayed from its originally planned date of June 19, causing many U.K. groups to speculate on what this will mean for the coming Brexit negotiations that were also expected to begin next week. Paul Everitt, CEO of ADS, a trade organization representing the U.K.’s aerospace, defense and security sectors, said today that, whatever government is formed as a result of the election should “refresh its Brexit strategy and reach out to a wider community to build consensus for its negotiating priorities.”
All Brexit options, ADS said, should “remain on the table,” including access to the single market, membership of the customs union, remaining within European regulatory regimes and examining the controls on freedom of movement. “The political context in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe has changed,” Everitt said. “We now have a vital opportunity to refresh our approach, with a greater focus on building consensus and a more constructive tone towards goals we share with our European partners.” The stunning elections results from the June 8 vote, in which the Conservatives lost 13 seats in Parliament while the rival Labour Party gained 30, was a signal that the country “wanted a more collaborative approach,” Everitt said. “The government needs to build a strong consensus on the priorities and options for a successful Brexit.” Prime Minister Teresa May and the Conservatives had ben champions of last year’s Brexit decision.
“No deal is the worst outcome for the U.K. and Europe,” Everitt continued. “Finding the best agreement will require compromise and pragmatic decisions by the U.K. and its European partners.” Meanwhile, Robert Keen, director general of the British International Freight Association (BIFA), said the Brexit negotiations should be no excuse to delay movement on promised transportation infrastructure plans. “The goalposts may well have moved since the results of the general election, but the playing field remains the same,” he said in an official BIFA statement on Tuesday. “There is uncertainty about when we will get a Queen’s Speech and when the Brexit negotiations will start, but there is no uncertainty about the date when the U.K. will leave the E.U.” Keen said that while the “huge issues” regarding changes to trade after the Brexit remain unchanged, it is still “too soon” to be making speculative statements about the outcome of the negotiations in light of the Conservatives’ defeat at the polls.
“What we can state with certainty is that in their manifesto, the Conservatives pledged to invest ?40 billion in transport infrastructure improvements, and expand Heathrow,” Keen added. “Those are not Brexit-dependant matters and would be very useful for the BIFA members who manage the movement of goods within domestic and international supply chains.” Keen concluded that the U.K. should “stop the procrastinating,” calling for the Queen’s Speech to include “details about both the transport infrastructure improvements, and the expansion of U.K. aviation capacity.” “On Brexit, what I will say is that BIFA Members are pragmatic problem solvers so whatever is eventually designed to facilitate movement of goods between the U.K. and the E.U. post Brexit, they will be ready to do their utmost to try to ensure that visible trade is fluid at the borders.”
In its “U.K. Aerospace Outlook 2017” report, also released today, ADS said the aviation industry recorded 8 percent growth compared to last year, with annual turnover reaching ?31.8 billion. The nation’s aerospace sector also grew by 39 percent of the over past five years, while productivity grew by 19 percent since 2010.
“The U.K.’s long-term prosperity depends on healthy high value manufacturing sectors and the government must put further political and financial commitment behind its industrial strategy for aerospace, or risk the UK losing out to overseas competitors,” Everitt said.
At press time, no date was given for when the Queen’s Speech will be made.
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