As we enter the final stages of the Brexit negotiations tensions are rising as experienced negotiators believe that a deal will be done at the eleventh hour.
The rhetoric around ‘no-deal’ and a second referendum is concerning businesses up and down the country. This was clear when I spoke at the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) conference last week, a consortium of travel industry professionals, who raised concerns about visas-access, fight safety regulations and even if UK planes will be able to fly to across Europe post-Brexit.
It is exactly these sorts of issues that the Government are planning to avoid in every eventuality, for example, both sides have said they would allow visa-free access in the short term, approve safety standards and allow reciprocal landing rights for a set period even in the case of ‘no-deal’.
Although welcome, these are only interim measures, and for me, emphasise the importance of agreeing the Withdrawal Agreement to ensure a smooth and orderly transition period; giving us the time to secure a comprehensive, permanent solution.
Similarly, the agreement would provide certainty to businesses locally too. Last week I met with Lockheed Martin, located just across the border in Hampshire, which employs many Chichester residents and offers an excellent apprenticeship programme. Lockheed Martin is a defence company specialising in global security and aerospace, supplying the Ministry of Defence.
Clearly, it is a highly specialised and technical workplace and it was wonderful to see so much home-grown talent in the apprentices I met with on my visit.
My week ended with a meeting and Q&A with the Young Farmers of Chichester, who had a lot of interesting perspectives as the next generation leading our farms and rural industry. Brexit presents huge challenges in this sector.
It has been interesting to hear the varied perspectives of different sectors and their industry-specific concerns about the UK’s future relationship with the EU. Having these meetings are vitally important to understand the impact that decisions made in Westminster and Brussels will have on the ground for our businesses and their employees.
The next date for the diary is the 15th March at The Three Moles from 5pm, followed by two open meetings in April. For details visit www.gilliankeegan.com/meeting-gillian