The LOTUS Weekly Brexit Round-Up
Frances Tuke summarises the recent Brexit drama gripping Westminster and its impact on the travel industry in this week’s round-up.
NIGHT OF THE BLOND KNIVES
The papers were ‘turbo-charged’ by the gusto with which Boris Johnson hit his prime ministerial post running. He immediately scythed 17 cabinet ministers to replace them with loyal supporters and Brexiteers, with the most controversial appointment a back-room appointee – or the Prime Minister’s senior advisor – Dominic Cummings.
Cabinet headlines included Jeremy Hunt turning down a ‘demotion’ to defence, whereas other fellow leadership candidates such as Dominic Raab – who was a former Brexit Secretary - has been given a big promotion to Foreign Secretary and Sajid Javid has been given the Chancellor post. Home Office Secretary has been awarded to formerly disgraced, Brexiteer Priti Patel.
Michael Gove, has been given the role of overseeing Brexit operations and at the weekend it was revealed that he will host a daily operations committee responsible for overseeing all of the government’s preparations for leaving. Similarly Boris Johnson will also chair a Exit Strategy meeting twice a week which has been named as a Brexit War Cabinet.
Broadcasters filled their programmes with vox pops from the UK populace who seemed swept away on a tide of optimism which confirmed a Boris Johnson honeymoon period.
Laura Keunssberg, the BBC Political Editor however, said that despite the look of a clean sweep new government full of optimism to get Brexit done by Halloween, most of those round the table in fact voted for Mrs May’s deal and questioned just how Brexit-y the new cabinet really is. Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is chair of the hard-right wing of the party the ERG – has been rewarded as Leader of the House, but none of the other members of this grouping have a seat at Cabinet.
Back room disruptor
Despite his Brexit credentials, Dominic Cummings – who led the Vote Leave campaign - and was credited as being one of the most influential figures in Vote Leave’s success - under the "Take Back Control" slogan and the campaign battle bus “We send the EU £350m a week, let's fund our NHS instead”, is seen to be a maverick campaigner and is neither liked nor trusted by many Tory and Brexiteer politicians. Cummings is not afraid to voice is contempt for politicians and Nigel Farage admitted that Cummings was anti the Brexit Party, Farage and the ERG. The feeling is mutual.
Cummings’ use of technology to reach formerly disengaged voters by employing the digital marketing firm Aggregate IQ (who were funded by the same billionaire who aided the Trump campaign) was phenomenally effective.
However, detractors will point out that Vote Leave had to pay a £61,000 fine for breaking electoral regulations and that he is still held in ‘Contempt of Parliament’ after failing to respond to summons from a Parliamentary Select Committee who was investigating fake news. (The £350 million, for example, never leaves the UK).
Last year, a Channel 4 Documentary was made about him last year with Benedict Cumberbatch playing him.
THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY
Ryanair suffers fall in profits amid Brexit concerns
Travel Weekly has reported that Ryanair profits fell by 21% to €243 million in the last quarter as it blamed lower fares combined with higher fuel and staff costs.
Europe’s largest budget carrier identified the UK as one of the two weakest markets in the three months to June “where Brexit concerns weigh negatively on consumer confidence and spending”.
The airline also revealed that it expects deliveries of the Boeing 737 Max to be further delayed until at least the end of the year. The Max is currently grounded after two crashes which killed 346 people.
Consumers ‘held off’ spending on longer holidays
A report from Deloitte revealed that consumers spent less on longer duration holidays in the second quarter of the year as they waited for late deals or planned shorter breaks.
The findings appear in the latest leisure consumer report compiled by Deloitte, based on a poll of more than 3,000 adults in June.
More consumers reported spending on both short breaks and long holidays in the period, up three and four percentage points, respectively, from the previous quarter.
However, compared to last year, consumers say they are spending less on longer holidays meaning some may have delayed their bookings until now or opted for shorter trips, according to the report.
Political and economic uncertainty continues to create caution in some consumers, with a third (32%) expecting to reduce their overall leisure spend in the next six months.
Royal Caribbean Cruises reports ‘double digit’ rise in UK bookings
In January, Royal Caribbean Cruises had raised concerns about “inconsistencies” in the UK market in January amid ongoing confusion brought about by Brexit.
But has reported a “double digit” rise in bookings from the UK during the second financial quarter.
In the quarter which ended June 30, the company earned $472.8 million, up from $466 million in the same period year-on-year.
But the company’s chief financial officer Jason Liberty said on Thursday (July 25 that he was pleased with how the UK market was “shaping up”.
He added that there was stronger demand from North America for Europe.
Lobbying group urges new Govt to back Heathrow development
Airlines UK has welcomed the appointment of new transport secretary Grant Shapps and urged him to push ahead with Heathrow’s third runway.
Trade urges Boris to avoid a no-deal Brexit
Travel trade associations have urged new prime minister Boris Johnson to secure a consensus in Parliament to avoid a no-deal Brexit scenario.
An Abta spokesperson said: “ABTA has written to urge that he takes every effort to ensure a managed exit from the EU.”
POLITICS ROUND-UP FROM THE SUNDAY PAPERS
However, there is no doubt that even detractors of Boris Johnson have admitted that the new Government has hit the ground running and has re-energised or ‘turbo-charged’ the process. There has been a ‘Boris bounce’ – which has led to a 10% increase in popularity in opinion polls against Labour. However, all commentators agree, that the Government faces the same arithmetic as with Theresa May.
Polls – opinion support for cons. Have risen . 2 + 10 per cent over labour. Surge in support – a Boris bounce. S Express. Com res ¾ believe he should be given a proper chance to take the UK out of the EU without parliamentary interference.
Government: We are working on the assumption that the EU won’t back down
The Sunday Times. The Minister in charge of preparing for a no deal Brexit, Michael Gove, wrote a thought-piece in The Sunday Times which said that the new Government is working on an assumption that the EU won’t back down or strike up a new agreement. Gove said that preparing for such an outcome is the Government’s number one priority.
Sunday Telegraph: Chancellor Sajid Javid, said that the Government was preparing a significant amount of additional funding for all departments to intensify preparations to leave without agreement.
The Mail on Sunday said that while Boris Johnson is flawed in many ways – both from a personal and political point of view, it believes it will provide the country with the best chance of climbing out of the mess and frustration of past three years.
The Sunday Mirror said that despite the whirlwind of promises, Johnson has certainly hit the ground running. But they are not impressed. “As people who have seen him in action can testify, it won’t take long for people to see through him”.
Observer. ‘The opening performances as prime minister were not encouraging but it would be a mistake to underestimate him.
The Sun. In his first three days, they believe Boris Johnson ‘has left Jeremy Corbyn looking flatter than a steam rollered pancake’.
Sunday People: ‘Little of the speech was new, with empty rhetoric and hollow promises’.
Pacts and Elections
The BBC at the weekend questioned whether the country was going to see more political pacts and an election in the autumn to change Parliamentary arithmetic.
Jo Swinson new leader of Lib Dems to do deal with remainers
Jo Swinson, new leader of the Lib Dems has said that she is talking to other parliamentary parties on strengthening the remain arm and to ensure that Scotland remains in the UK. She said that Scotland should not be forced to choose between the UK or Europe and she has vowed to fight for both.
Trump thinks Conservatives and Brexit Party should work together
Nigel Farage has said that President of the USA Donald Trump has looked at numbers and publicly said/made the assumption that the Brexit Party should work with the Conservatives. Farage said: “If Boris Johnson did the right thing and went for a ‘clean break Brexit’ [no deal], he could see the logic of working together.’ He believed that they could be an ‘Unstoppable combination in a general election.’
“For the minute, the Conservatives don’t want a pact, but in the case of a snap General election, their view might change.’