"It’s by no means perfect, but it’s a damn sight better than not having a deal”.
That was the less than effusive response from Der Touristik UK boss Derek Jones to Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement. It seems to sum up much of the industry’s feeling towards the latest chapter of the Brexit debacle (p5).
The reaction of UKinbound was similarly muted. Its support for the withdrawal agreement, it pointed out, was down only to the reassurance a deal would provide members. There are “big issues” that remain unanswered, it added.
Ken McLeod, president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association, was also scathing: "Is this the best deal we could’ve got? Probably not, but it’s on the right path and gives us something to work with."
And this, of course, is the crux of May’s deal. It offers limited clarity on key travel issues: freedom of movement; whether professional qualifications will be recognised; if Brits will need visas. But for all its flaws, it is at least a deal. Which at least means certainty.
This matters, because as Cosmos boss Giles Hawke warned last week, the looming shadow of Brexit is “dampening demand” for travel spending.
Frustratingly, parliament looks likely to reject May’s agreement, making this whole discussion redundant. And while the politicians focus on infighting, business will continue to suffer.
More galling, as Jones says, is that the best deal is what we have now – remaining inside the EU. So should we really accept something that leaves us worse off?
TTG believes not. Many of us on the team have added our voices to the thousands of others demanding a second referendum.
Now more than ever, we believe a People’s Vote is crucial. If this is denied, then travel, along with other sectors, should welcome the withdrawal agreement – flaws and all. In this era of Brexit madness, we might as well take what certainty we can get.