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Published on Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Travel industry caught in a 'dangerous game of chicken' over no-deal Brexit warning

The travel sector is caught in 'a foolish and dangerous game of chicken' being played by the government over a no-deal Brexit, according to LibDem leader Vince Cable.

Cable, who is MP for the Twickenham - the home of AITO and ABTA chairman Noel Josephides - said the 'leaked' story to the Sunday Times at the weekend is all part of the government's plan to frighten MPs and the wider public into supporting the prime minister's exit plan.

He said he would try to raise the issue in parliament before Christmas, outlining the damage the rumours have done to the travel industry.

Responding to a letter sent by AITO on Monday, Cable said: "We know that 'no deal' isn't going to happen because the British government can simply cancel Article 50 and will do so in extremis. But it is trying to frighten MPs and the wider public with this threat of 'no deal' hoping that they will swing behind the government's plan."

AITO had turned to Cable for help following the article which claimed families will be advised not to book holiday after March 29 as part of contingency plans being drawn up to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

AITO's letter said although the report was dismissed as 'categorically untrue' by No. 10, the damage has been done.

"The fact that The Sunday Times reports 'fears that the advice might bankrupt specific tour operators' is pretty damning in itself, not to mention talk of one option being for the government to cover losses to holiday companies. What planet are they on?!" said the letter.

It continued: "Everyone is horrified that, as the peak season booking period is about to get underway, something so idiotic and unnecessary can be leaked (let alone dreamt up as a scenario when we've all been assured by the UK and EU that flights and so on will not be affected no matter the outcome of the Brexit negotiations)."

Cable said the industry should not expect an apology from the government because 'creating fear and uncertainty is part of its strategy'.

"Even pottier ideas are circulating like using the disaster relief funds intended for earthquakes and tsunamis to help a no deal Britain," he said.

"In this madness it makes little sense to approach the government on the basis of rational thinking. I will, however, in the next few days running up to Christmas seek to raise in parliament the specific issue of the damaging rumours about travel and seek more clarity."

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