Chris Grayling slammed over claim no-deal Brexit will be like collapse of Monarch Airlines

Posted On: 
1st October 2018

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has been criticised after he claimed Britain could handle a no-deal Brexit because it coped with the collapse of a major airline.

The Transport Secretary made the claim at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham.

The Cabinet minister told the Conservative Party conference that the Government's response to the demise of Monarch Airlines showed that the UK could prove "doomsayers" wrong "regardless of the outcome of negotiations".

The UK's fifth largest airline went under last year, leaving tens of thousands of holidaymakers stranded overseas and prompting a £60m recovery effort by Mr Grayling's Department for Transport.

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The top minister told the party faithful on Monday: "The Monarch planes are now flying under different colours.

"The slots at the airports were snapped up quickly.

"And our successful aviation industry moved on to meet new challenges.

"I am proud to live in a country where our industries and our businesses instinctively know how to adapt and grow following changes.

"That, ladies and gentlemen, is what will happen to this country after Brexit, regardless of the outcome of negotiations.

"And those who say that Brexit will mean the planes stop flying are doomsayers who do not know what they are talking about."

But the Transport Secretary's claim was quickly dismissed by one of his predecessors in the transport job.

Lord Adonis, speaking for the anti-Brexit Best for Britain campaign, said: "That the most positive comparison Chris Grayling can think of for the Brexit process is the collapse of a large airline and the emergency recovery of its stranded customers reveals a lot about the dire situation we are in and this government's disastrous leadership."

The Labour peer added: "Politicians like Grayling are incapable of navigating a way out of this crisis, which is why the only solution is for parliament to put the question in the hands of the people. We need a people's vote, giving the public the choice between May's deal and remaining in the EU, as the only way to end this mess."

The UK government's official position is to try and avoid leaving the European Union without a deal - but Whitehall departments have ramped up their contingency planning in recent months with a batch of 'Technical Notices' designed to reassure the public about a no-deal.

A note published by the Department for Transport last week said the UK was continuing to "work hard to seek a positive deal" with the EU.

But it conceded that a no-deal Brexit would see airlines "lose the automatic right to operate air services between the UK and the EU without seeking advance permission".