Transport Secretary Patrick Mcloughlin’s comments on a radio show have prompted speculation that the EU Referendum could delay still further the decision of where to put a new runway in the South East.
Speaking on LBC, the Transport Secretary said: “We have said we would hope to move some way by the summer of this year”, but continued: “there’s lots of other things which are going on in the political spectrum – if there’s a referendum this summer, and the like. But I would hope by the summer of this year we will be able to make progress.”
This has been interpreted as potentially further delay, waiting for the decision on EU membership as it might impact demand on air travel – it is mooted that a UK exit from the EU could prompt many international companies based here to move EU headquarters to the continent, and affect demand for short haul flights.
There are, of course, many things that could affect demand. A further economic collapse in the UK or elsewhere, a war, or a global plague. These may or may not be less likely that the UK voting for an EU exit in a referendum, but would all provide further opportunities for prevarication on an issue on which there may not be a national consensus, but which the vast majority of people believe needs to be answered quickly to avoid further negative impacts on the UK economy. It is to be hoped that this opportunity is not taken.
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