The Brexit vote was always going to create uncertainty. There is already evidence of companies delaying investment decisions. But perhaps the most high profile casualty so far is the expansion of airport capacity in the South East of the UK.
There will be no decision until a new prime minister has been selected by the ruling Tory party – the third time a decision has been put off since the Davis Commission report last year.
Chris Welsh of the Freight Transport Association complained: “Increased airport capacity in the south east has become a political football and the situation must not be allowed to continue.”
And the Confederation of British Industry reckons that these delays could cost the UK some £30 billion in lost trade.
“Our new analysis shows that our European rivals with spare capacity will be gaining at the UK’s expense, cashing in on their own thriving connectivity, if we fail to get on and build a new runway,” said CBI president Paul Dreschler. “By 2030, better capacity will see German trade with the BRIC economies alone grow by an additional £15 billion, and French trade grow by £7.5 billion – trade that could and should be coming here.”
There is no doubt that recent governments, both Conservative and Labour, have been running away from making a decision on this for fear of the political fall-out.
But equally there is no doubt that their failure risks serious damage to the economy. Whoever takes over from David Cameron as prime minister must step up and make this critical decision.