Air Passenger Duty “is a disgrace” and the uncertainty over Brexit “is very nearly over” a Conservative MP assured business travel leaders yesterday.
James Heappey, MP for Wells, told a Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC) industry leaders’ lunch in London: “I’m one of a large number of Conservative MPs who want APD cut.”
He said: “We would get far more in value than we lose if we just got rid of it. APD is a disgrace. Charging people so much to come here or to leave here is an outrage.”
Heappey told the GTMC: “You are an important industry and we must work with you to mitigate the risks of Brexit. But the Brexit uncertainty is very nearly over.
“A number of my colleagues believe no deal will be an opportunity. Others believe it will be a calamity. Neither of these positions are true.
“But provided we end up with some sort of deal we will be fine. What matters is the uncertainty in the meantime, and it is very nearly over.”
He suggested an extension of the Brexit leave date, currently set as March 29, would be limited.
Heappey said: “The only extension that will be possible is of a few weeks not months. I don’t think the government is warming to the idea of months more of uncertainty.
“The votes on Tuesday night [by MPs] should reassure you that Parliament has no appetite for that.”
The MP, a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the events industry, made clear: “If I am forced to choose between no deal and no Brexit then I will choose no deal because I represent a constituency that voted ‘leave’ in a country that voted leave and the honest thing is to vote no deal. But I hope there will be a deal.
“I know the workforce and skills are massive challenges [for you]. There is a reality of demand for labour, and policy post-Brexit must recognise that demand.”
Heappey also assured corporate travel leaders: “Heathrow expansion is the only show in town and we have to get on with it urgently.”
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