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Let’s hope the Hard Brexiters have a secret plan for this problem

by derekdeedman on 22 February, 2018

One of the oddities of those on the right of the Conservative Party who talk about being pro-business is how often there is a successful business that they take against, demanding a swathe of changes to rules, taxes and government spending that make the interventionism of even much of those on the left look timid.

Onshore wind farms are a classic case – a successful, growing business with an increasingly bright future in generating not only power but skilled jobs and exports. And their response? Quick, all change please to hobble it!

The aviation sector is another example. It’s a sector Ian Dunt has been taking a look at:

The UK aviation industry is now the largest in Europe and the third largest in the world. In 2006, it transported 268 million passengers, sustaining a million jobs, and contributing £52 billion to the economy and £9 billion directly to the Treasury. The EU is its single biggest destination, accounting for just over half of passengers.

That reference to the European Union may give you a clue about what is to follow. Because the right’s insistence on Hard Brexit threatens the industry with disaster:

The single aviation market is part of the EU’s legal spider’s web. It comes under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which hard Brexiters reject, and has rules established and monitored by EU agencies, which hard Brexiters want to leave.

The most important agency in aviation is the European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa). Everything you see on a plane in Europe has been vouched for by Easa – from the engine, to the landing gear, to the little trolley that goes up and down the aisle with the drinks. It’s heavily influenced by the UK and France, who together provide two-thirds of all the rule-making input on European safety regulation.

If you leave it, bad things happen. All the things Easa used to take care of will suddenly have to be done by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). You don’t even want to think about how much work that entails, or how many members of staff would have to be hired to do it. The level of technical complexity is dizzying.

Ensuring that the plane itself is safe to fly requires certifying 5,000 different parts. And that is just one tiny part of the work that the regulator needs to do. It’ll also have to monitor the training and work of any engineer carrying out work on any plane anywhere in the UK. It’ll need to have day-to-day oversight of the work done at all 172 maintenance, repair and overhaul sites. Even military training simulators for combat aircraft pilots will come under its remit.

And what do Hard Brexiters want to do? Walk away from that, and without a credible plan worked out on what to do.

(Unless, that is, they’ve got a secret plan.)

You can, and should, read his piece in full here.


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