If Brexit is about taking back control from the EU, why is Gatwick Airport now owned by the French?

Gatwick Airport: Britain had a chance to “take back control” of it this week, but a French firm has bought the controlling interest in it instead.

It’s bad enough that Gatwick wasn’t owned by the British when it was sold, but selling it to the French – at a time when all government propaganda is about retaking control from Europe – makes a worse mockery of Brexit than it already is.

Foreigners control our water supplies and railway services; they control our energy suppliers and are heavily involved in our technology industries (as concerns about Chinese firm Huawei have demonstrated).

And yet Theresa May keeps trying to tell us she is taking back control of our destiny for us.

Let’s remember it was Conservatives like Mrs May who originally sold off our state-owned assets. At the time, they tried to make it seem that we were taking back control, too.

(Remember? It was all about, “Now, you have a chance to own [BT/British Gas/British Water/British Rail/whatever else they were flogging that week]!” And who ended up owning those things? Firms from Europe. And to make matters worse, they’re mostly nationalised firms from Europe!)

Brexit is not about the British taking back control of anything. It is about the Tories tightening their grip around our throats after they sold off everything that was worth controlling – to Europe.

And don’t complain about the Opposition parties failing to call a second referendum. Simple Parliamentary arithmetic shows they can’t.

Anybody who whines about Jeremy Corbyn failing to stop Brexit needs to take a crash course in personal responsibility. The buck stopped with the people, back in June 2016.

And it’s the people who will suffer, if Brexit happens in any of the forms Mrs May is threatening.

France’s Vinci Airports is taking a controlling stake in Gatwick for £2.9bn, a week after the UK’s second-biggest airport was brought to a standstill by a series of drone sightings.

A consortium led by the US investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) is selling a majority stake of 50.01% in the airport to Vinci Airports, one of the world’s top airport operators and part of the infrastructure group Vinci. Vinci and GIP will manage Gatwick together.

The deal, which was agreed on Thursday, was delayed by the chaos caused by three days of drone sightings in the run-up to Christmas. Gatwick, the eighth-busiest airport in Europe by passenger numbers, was forced to close its runway, disrupting flights for 140,000 passengers.

Source: Gatwick airport: majority stake sold to French group | Business | The Guardian

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  1. Julian Townsend December 27, 2018 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    Er, what does the sale of Gatwick airport have to do with Brexit? Nobody, least of all the Tories, has suggested that Brexit would stop free trade. It would give a British government some opportunities for control that do not exist for EU members; the government would still have to choose to use them!

    • Mike Sivier December 28, 2018 at 12:12 am - Reply

      I’m making the point that the claim to be “taking back control” is clear and evident nonsense and the sale of Gatwick is an obvious example of the reason it is.

  2. Stu December 28, 2018 at 3:38 am - Reply

    I get your point but foreign ownership has thrived under New Labour and Tory rule.
    Birmingham and Bristol Airports are owned by the same Canadian corporation who owns Camelot (and investment in HS2)
    Osborne sold our half of the Channel Tunnel to the French (along with border rights), there’s Arriva, Boots, Asda, Lloyds Pharmacy, Jaguar to name but a few.

    I really do believe that it’s too little, too late to insist on buying British or insisting on British only investment but agree with you about the hypocrisy of the politicians who pretend to care.

  3. Gordon Powrie December 28, 2018 at 7:11 am - Reply

    £2.9 billion? That sounds like a bargain! What other infrastructure can you buy for that?

  4. Growing Flame December 28, 2018 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    Once again, it comes down to Brexit being whatever Leave voters wanted it to be , in each individual’s head. So many, I am sure, will feel betrayed that Gatwick will now be in the hands of a small group of French and American businessmen. Others will accept the previously-expressed view that Brexit was just about freeing up UK trade , so that there is no problem with non-British firms owning assets in Britain.
    But I bet there are more of the former.
    In the same way, I am sure that many Leavers thought that , somehow, immigration would go right down, especially the arrival of Muslims. Of course, the wording of the Referendum contained no reference to immigration at all, and, in fact, as time goes on, we may need to attract yet more young people from abroad to carry out skilled tasks such as the care of the elderly and infirm, or in construction.
    Once again, Leave voters will feel betrayed because their own fantasy “wish-list” for Brexit will founder on the rocks of reality.
    But it will never be their fault. It will be blamed on the “elite” or “the EU”.

  5. Thomas Marshfield December 28, 2018 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    Starting with HEATH, the real cause of our dilemma!!! a whole string of appeasers have sold this country short, to the point we have become a laughing stock world wide

  6. Meryl Davids December 28, 2018 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    Of course everything is foreign owned thanks to EU procurement regulations it’s why the nhs was being set up to sell off.

  7. Pat Sheehan December 28, 2018 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    How can we possibly ensure that systemic, dyed-in-the-wool, half-wit, tory voters get the psychological treatment and support they so evidently need and deserve to cultivate a slightly broader view than ‘self’ when the failing NHS is so obviously overwhelmed with arguably more critical and deserving cases? Trying to clear the wreckage of the deliberately and cynically, crashed, tory-brexit, circus train persistently blocking the road ahead feels ever more akin to flogging that proverbial old dead horse! Hopefully, like the old dead horse of lore, Joe-tory along with the aforementioned half-baked electoral support will all end up in the ‘knacker’s yard’ for full and final rendering!

  8. Stuart & Margaret McGuinness December 29, 2018 at 11:58 pm - Reply

    Just to say that many of our companies/services are owned by “foreigners” would probably be better phrased as owned by “foreign companies”.

  9. The People's Cries December 31, 2018 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    The Vox Populi are opposed to the ownership of public services and indeed of all capital by owners whatever their nationality: indeed the capital-owning class is already organised as an international class. This article unwittingly stirs up xenophobia, and is not a step towards organising an internationalist anti-ownership movement! Beware stigmatisations that use the ruling tropes of stigma… ownership, profiteering, extraction and exploitation are stigma enough.

    • Mike Sivier January 1, 2019 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      What are you on about?
      The article does not stir up xenophobia; it merely points out that our formerly-nationalised utilities are now in foreign ownership, because of the lies, myopia and incompetence of the neoliberal Conservatives, and their like-minded fellows in other political parties.

  10. Growing Flame January 1, 2019 at 6:57 pm - Reply

    This subject is one of the factors that will cause Leave voters to feel betrayed regardless of the final Brexit outcome. “Brexit” is whatever the individual Leave voter thinks it means, based on whatever personal belief they have.
    So many may think Brexit will automatically stop British-based firms being owned by non-Britons. It won’t! But that is what some Leavers think.

    Many Leavers thought that immigration, especially of black and brown people,and more especially muslims, will cease with Brexit. It won’t!

    Many must think that they will be treated better by the government because the government will be entirely made up of British citizens. Being the same nationality may be thought to prove an identity of interests. Again, with the Tories in charge, their situation will not improve.

    Disappointment and betrayal on all sides. No kind of Brexit will prevent this.

    I think Vox Political is quite right to point out these painful realities. Though ,of course, referring to “the French” as the owners of British-based firms is a bit loosely expressed, given that the vast majority of French people do not own any firms at all, like most Britons.

    • Mike Sivier August 19, 2019 at 8:37 am - Reply

      A certain number of these British-based firms are owned by the French government, on behalf of the people of that nation. So they are, in fact as well as name, owned by the French.

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