Wednesday 22 May 2019

Brexit flight 'chaos' looms as May fights back at Tory rebels

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John Mulligan

John Mulligan

European air travellers risk "chaos" in the event of a hard Brexit, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned.

The association, which represents dozens of airlines around the world, said the UK and European Union need to put contingency plans in place to make sure there is uninterrupted air connectivity.

It pointed out there are no fall-back agreements such as the World Trade Organisation framework available for other sectors in a no-deal Brexit.

"Without any contingency planning being made transparent to the industry, the risks of not addressing these issues could mean chaos for travellers and interrupted supply chains," said IATA chief Alexandre de Juniac. "With less than six months to go, we have little more certainty than we did in June 2016."

A hard Brexit, without an agreement for a transition period, "is likely to lead to significant disruption to air services", IATA warned.

It came as Tánaiste Simon Coveney briefed Fine Gael colleagues about the latest Brexit talks.

The Foreign Affairs Minister held a 45-minute discussion with TDs in which he outlined his expectation that the UK will agree to the Northern Ireland backstop "sooner or later".

Sources said he appeared confident that a 'middle of the road' Brexit would be delivered, even suggesting a November meeting of the EU Council could still happen.

Mr Coveney is understood to have assured TDs the EU Taskforce led by Michel Barnier is still 100pc behind the Irish position. This means there will be no withdrawal agreement without a legally operable 'backstop' that ensures a hard Border can never return on this island.

Meanwhile, Theresa May delivered an "emotional" address to backbench Tory MPs following talk of attempts to oust her as Prime Minister.

Mrs May was said to have "won the room" and secured her position with a "heartfelt" speech to the backbench 1922 Committee.

The meeting came after fresh revelations about the Government's plans for a no-deal Brexit, with alternative measures to secure supplies of food and medicines from the continent being investigated in case of chaos on the English Channel crossing.

Leaked Cabinet papers indicated the transition period, during which the UK will remain tied to Brussels, could turn into a "long-running" arrangement lasting years.

But Mrs May firmly rejected reports the Government was willing to agree that the European Court of Justice should be the final arbiter in most disputes arising from Brexit.

Irish Independent

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