Leading article

Another Brexit calamity

If any further proof was needed that Brexit has been a catastrophe for all sections of our divided society, it was supplied by the axing of the key Aer Lingus route between Belfast City Airport and Heathrow in London.

The Irish carrier wanted to maintain the arrangement, but, as we reported last week, its relevant air operation certificate will expire at the end of this month under the terms of the EU and UK's post Brexit trade and cooperation agreement.

Eugene Gargan from the Fórsa trade union described the development as hugely disruptive, and said: “This is, unfortunately, another unforeseen and disastrous consequence of Brexit.”

British Airways has said it will attempt to increase its role at Belfast City Airport, but there will be a range of uncertainties for the public and the Aer Lingus staff who had helped to develop a popular service will inevitably face considerable upheaval.

It plainly does not help that Stormont's Department for the Economy (DfE), where the minister is the DUP's Gordon Lyons, and the Northern Ireland Office are not on the same wavelength over dealing with the issue.

A sharply worded statement from the DfE said an urgent meeting with NIO representatives had taken place last month, with a number of possible solutions put forward, but it was `disappointing' that responses had yet to be received.

The DUP was of course a firm supporter of Brexit during the 2016 UK referendum in what historians may well come to ultimately regard as unionism's worst ever strategic blunder.

It remains astonishing that the DUP could put its full faith in the Conservative Party, only to be so repeatedly deceived, and also fail to realise that the protocol measure, which it so vehemently opposed but which protects Northern Ireland from the worst consequences of Brexit, was an inevitable outcome of EU withdrawal.

Even the Daily Telegraph, which led the charge for Brexit, provided a platform for a prominent columnist to declare at the weekend that `Project Fear', the case for remaining in the EU which the paper contemptuously dismissed at the time, had been right all along.

Jeremy Warner said that, if anything, the predictions by a range of economists had underestimated the loss of international standing and the scale of the damage which the last six years of policy confusion and ineptitude had imposed on the UK.

Liz Truss, the entirely incompetent British prime minister, would do well to study Mr Warner's assessment.