For 202, Against 432. The outcome of the House of Commons vote is a slap in the face for Mrs May and her government. Extremely bitter not only for the UK but also the European Union that will be weakened by the decision.
The politician’s vote increases the risk of a disorderly Brexit without an agreement on 29 March, which could have serious repercussions on the economy. In first statements, leading logistics
firms and executives of the aviation industry reacted with consternation and incomprehension of what had happened last evening in London, producing nothing but further chaos.
K+N is shocked, as are others
Kuehne + Nagel’s CEO Detlef Trefzger spoke of a worst-case scenario resulting from the decision. “A disorderly Brexit is the worst solution. It will impose massive restrictions on the exchange of goods between the European Union and the United Kingdom. We appeal to the responsible bodies in London and Brussels to do the utmost to prevent this scenario. As far as we are concerned, we are focussed on ensuring the constant flow of goods for our customers,” he assured. In a release the Switzerland-based company emphasized that “in order to cope with the effects of a disorderly Brexit, Kuehne + Nagel has taken steps to review all options to secure capacity on trade routes with Europe outside of the Kent corridor both by sea and air.” Moreover, the company has commenced recruitment of additional customs clerks.
Airbus jobs at stake
Likewise, Airbus Chief Tom Enders warned of the consequences of a no Brexit deal for the European plane maker, which became even more realistic after last night’s vote of the UK parliament. He pointed out that every single wing mounted on any Airbus aircraft is produced in Broughton, Wales where 6,000-plus Airbus staff are working. These jobs are endangered should supply chains and the seamless flow of goods be torpedoed as result of political decisions in the UK. His colleague and successor Guillaume Faury added to this that a “hard Brexit means that we are unable to get parts and components across the Channel due to high customs hurdles and a collapse of transport links.”
Both Airbus executives didn’t exclude that this might have severe effects on the company’s production facilities and their suppliers in the UK. In total, 14,000 people are working for the European plane maker on the British Isles.
Brussels in state of shock – new UK referendum?
Meanwhile, Labour Boss Jeremy Corbin has tabled a motion of non-confidence which will be decided on today (Wednesday). For Prime Minister Theresa May this means that she is battling on two fronts, as the Daily Telegraph points out, “fighting to retain her grip on power while attempting to find a Brexit compromise that could command majority in the House of Commons."
In Brussels, politicians reacted shocked after the vote was announced. EU Council President Donald Tusk regretted the decision. On Twitter, he asked, "If a deal is impossible and nobody wants a no deal, who will have the guts to say what the only positive solution is?"
However, the last word has not been said
Will the EU bosses bend a little further and give Mrs May more concessions and a chance to get rid of the now infamous “back-stop” issue for Ireland?
Who knows - the UK government has three days to get anything new together. The most likely scene may be that Article 50 will be postponed for a further three to four months. But that in itself is only prolonging the pain.
Or - a new referendum?
Currently, only one thing is for sure in this Brexit drama – that nothing is sure. Good night Great Britain and Europe. Sleep well.
Heiner Siegmund / John Mc Donagh