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OPINION: Hard Brexit will fail UK aerospace

Two years have passed since the last Farnborough air show – an event that was overshadowed by the UK’s vote, weeks earlier, to leave the EU.

During those 24 months, you would think the government (actually governments, given the change of administration in 2017) might have taken the opportunity to offer a coherent vision for Brexit.

But here we are on the eve of the 2018 edition of Farnborough and the narrative is still dominated by uncertainty and political in-fighting.

The UK government has finally published its policy on the separation, one that envisions a soft Brexit and some form of economic partnership with the EU. Crucially, the country would remain in regulatory alignment with the European Aviation Safety Agency. But inevitably, hardline Brexiteers believe that a no-deal solution would be better than the government’s latest proposal, which leaves the UK a “vassal” state.

At some point, those visions of utopia must collide with reality. Airbus is not crying wolf when it warns of supply chain constriction and production slowdowns. And nor is the airframer bluffing when it says it will ­reconsider its presence in the UK in the event of a hard or no-deal Brexit.

Cool heads must now prevail. It is imperative for UK aerospace that the most pragmatic solution is found.

Otherwise an industry will be betrayed by Brexit.

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