FIA18 RECAP – Brexit and Beyond

One of the major themes that was prominent through Farnborough Airshow was the dreaded ‘B’ word, Brexit. However coupled with speeches made by the Chair of the Treasury Committee Nicky Morgan MP, and the Director General of the CBI, Carolyn Fairbairn, alongside major government announcements, the focus wasn’t just on Brexit, but what industry can do beyond Brexit.

In a first for Farnborough, a select committee evidence session was held at the Airshow with the House of Commons Treasury Committee. The session was the committee taking evidence from the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, who said during the session that the public would be worse off if the UK were to leave the EU without a trade deal and operate under World Trade Organisation Rules. He also warned that a no deal Brexit scenario could have big consequences for the UK economy. The Government’s Brexit White Paper that was published earlier this month had proposed a free trade area for goods which would mirror the EU’s customs regime at the UK border. The Governor’s comments at the session echoed the importance of trade and customs elements highlighted in the Brexit White Paper, and industry welcomes these progressive steps to avoid a no deal scenario.

Building on the Treasury Committee’s session at the Airshow, Chair of the Committee, Nicky Morgan MP gave a keynote political speech at a FINN (Farnborough International News Network) session highlighting her Brexit concerns. Morgan highlighted that the Aerospace sector has the biggest stake in the outcome of Brexit negotiations, noting how the industry has benefited enormously from the development of common rules and a common regulator under the EU. She outlined the importance of businesses having their say and highlighted the Airbus intervention as a pivotal moment that cut through all the political noise. Talking beyond Brexit, Morgan added that she is an optimist stating:

“I think that in this country, in this particular sector, we see ingenuity, innovation and inspiration so I think there are good grounds to be optimistic.  But there are some fundamentals that have got to be ironed out, and fairly swiftly.”

Nicky Morgan wasn’t the only one who highlighted the importance of achieving a pragmatic Brexit, during a speech at the AGP Conference during the Airshow, the Director General of CBI, Carolyn Fairbairn echoed Morgan’s comments. Fairbairn outlined that the UK’s world-leading aerospace, defence, security and space industries remain at the heart of the UK economy, with EU-wide collaboration central to success across the continent. She said that the economy must come first during the Brexit process and that the UK needs to move beyond the sound and fury of politics to what really matters.

These nodes of optimism were increased when the Prime Minister opened Farnborough Airshow and made a number of positive announcements which outlined greater certainty on Brexit negotiations and have provided vital confidence for industry as the UK moves beyond Brexit.

Voices throughout the week were clear and we now need the Government to act to ensure a deal is made so that our industries can continue to thrive after Brexit.