Leaving the EU will be “more like a slow puncture than a blowout”, according to former Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable.
Addressing the Aito conference on Friday (22 November), Cable said Brexit would almost certainly further weaken the pound, which would make imported goods more expensive and “squeeze living standards”, which would likely affect holidaying.
“The market already knows this is quite likely,” he told delegates. “But if things start to go wrong, the currency will start sliding and it will become more attractive to have holidays in Blackpool than Benidorm.”
Cable urged delegates to bear in mind the likely impact of Brexit to more vulnerable economies in Europe, some of which are popular destinations.
“Brexit is part of a wider story, it’s not just a British problem,” he said.
Cable’s session "Life after Brexit – what’s the future?" saw him flag a number of issues critical to the travel sector that would likely be impacted by Brexit, most notably aviation safety and flight co-ordination which he reiterated were currently done by EU regulations.
“The independent assessments are nearly all negative,” said Cable. “There are a whole load of issues that will affect the travel sector. The big worry for me is next year, that come July or August, there will be big uncertainty about the end of the transition to the end of 2020. [From] 31 December 2020, we have no idea what the arrangements are.”
Cable believes there is around a 25% chance Britain will eventually remain in the EU, and a 50% chance of a “decent” deal. He advised delegates though to do their own risk assessments and try to quantify the risk to be prepared.
On the subject of climate change, Cable said there was a willingness in political circles to address the issue.
He singled out the aviation sector though as an industry that has “escaped scrutiny so far”, adding if the sector doesn’t act, it may result in higher taxes on flying and potentially quotas.
“It’s something you need to think about,” he warned delegates.
Cable also confidently predicted a new recession would hit at least one global economy, whether it’s Japan or China or even the eurozone as a collective.
He said governments across the world had spent a lot of their ammunition to fight a recession mitigating debt in an attempt to keep interest rates low. “It’s quite an extreme problem in some countries.”
On Boris Johnson, Cable said the prime minister’s political views were far from fixed. “He was a perfectly liberal mayor of London,” said Cable. “He will go with the flow, whatever keeps him in power. If he gets back with a big majority, he will have a lot of very fanatical people in his ranks and he will have a debt to pay to [Nigel] Farage.”
Referring to the debate around how Britain eventually leaves the EU, he added to leave on so-called WTO (World Trade Organization) rules would be “anarchy”.