The referendum on whether to leave or remain within the European Union has preoccupied British social and political discourse for many months but produced little by way of enlightenment. And as summer draws on and the vote nears, it has become clear that for better or worse, the impact of Brexit on UK shipping has been a low priority item.
In some ways this is not surprising, given the ‘sea blindness’ that plagues shipping’s public recognition. In other ways, the fact that shipping is so vital to the country’s trade and economic health makes it a surprising omission.
The exclusion is not for want of trying. Though the UK Chamber of Shipping, in common with almost every other trade association, has not expressed a stance, it did draw up a report examining the pros and cons which was sent to the UK Government, without eliciting much response.
As Director of Policy David Balston remarked to a seminar held by the UK Maritime Foundation, while all Britons have their own perspectives “the one thing we can agree on is that both camps have been very light on facts”.
In considering the threats and opportunities as he saw them, Balston was scrupulous to not break his own rule though he did attempt to bust a few myths.