Following days of tension within the government, tourism trade association UKinbound has urged MPs to support the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement announced by prime minister Theresa May last week.
The trade body, which represents nearly 400 UK tourism businesses, has come out in favour of the deal, although its chairman Mark McVay says some “big issues” have yet to be resolved.
Commenting on the deal over the weekend, McVay said: “The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement provides some reassurance for our members that progress is being made about the shape of our future relationship with the EU, which we welcome.
“However, some of the big issues that will ensure the continued success of our industry remain unanswered, such as the arrangements for migrant workers, which our industry heavily relies on, post the transition period.
“We would nonetheless urge parliamentarians to get behind this deal, as a no deal Brexit would have disastrous consequences for our industry. Until a deal is confirmed, businesses need to continue preparing for all eventualities.”
McVay’s comments echo those of Mark Tanzer, CEO of ABTA, who warned in a blog that businesses need to continue developing contingency plans, as the deal still has to be approved by the UK Parliament and the EU Council.
Tanzer said the resignation of several government officials, including former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and work and pensions secretary Esther McVey, shows there is still no guarantee that the UK won’t crash out of the EU without a deal in place.
Tanzer said: “Given the ongoing uncertainty, it is advisable that members continue with contingency planning in order to make sure you are prepared, whatever the scenario.”
The EU Council will meet on 25 November to vote on whether it will approve the draft deal. If it passes, the draft will be put to the UK Parliament in December for a vote. If MPs agree to pass it, an EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill will be produced in early 2019 and sent back to the EU Council for a ballot.
The UK is due to exit the EU at 2300 on 29 March 2019, with a transition period expected to last until December 2020.
The EU Commission has proposed an arrangement to allow UK citizens to travel to Schengen area countries without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, provided the UK offers a reciprocal deal for EU passport holders travelling to Britain.
The Commission also said airlines will be able to operate as normal after the UK leaves the union – good news for the travel industry after warnings from both the EU and the UK that flights may be disrupted in the event of a no deal Brexit.