So, the British Ministry of Transport of Non-Delight has now decided that laptops can be taken on planes after all provided that they are taken out of their bags before they go through the X-ray machines so that everyone can see that what is going through the machine really is a laptop, but there is still the rule that you can only take on board water, sandwiches, books, newspapers, cosmetics and so on that have been bought in the airport's own shops. At one time that sort of behaviour was called a restrictive trade practice and was widely held to be a Bad Thing; now it is called security and is widely held to be a Good Thing – despite the obvious fact that that these shops actively encourage passengers to buy glass bottles containing flammable liquid – and everyone can be quite certain that al Qaeda will never be able to infiltrate one of its Made in Britain agents into the secure airside zone of a British airport; you need the resources of an organisation like the Daily Mirror behind you if you want to contemplate a stunt like that.
Michael O'Leary, CEO of Ryan Air, is an angry and worried man. He has every right to be. He knows what happened to Freddie Laker when he tried to take on BA with his cheap flights. Hand baggage restrictions work against low-cost airlines by increasing costs and turnaround times (easyJet is now charging for checked-in baggage), companies working on low margins are especially vulnerable to disruption, and as ever the question is cui bono?
Meanwhile on another front, there is the Government to deal with. Cheap airlines encourage people to travel around Europe in what is one of the most popular and most successful aspects of the development of the European project. In Britain this sort of thing is regarded as undesirable, even suspicious (except for tacky, alcoholic holidays in the Mediterranean coastal ghettos), as is shown by Britain's profound lack of interest in the Erasmus and other similar programmes. Eurosceptic Britain's stupid security regulations are making life difficult throughout Europe, especially with attempts to make other countries impose them as well, thereby helping to achieve the Great British Goal of fucking up the EU as much as possible whenever possible. Is it fanciful to suppose that the UK is ramping up a domestic security crisis in order to prosecute its policy of sabotaging the EU? It is not. This is after all the country that ramped up fake intelligence in order to justify its unnecessary and illegal invasion of a foreign country in direct opposition to the rest of the EU. It is the country that officially discourages its young people from learning languages. It is the country where for thirty years or more governments, oppositions and media have orchestrated a campaign of hatred against an organisation that the UK is a member of. It is the country that is still known as l'Albion perfide.
But there is a huge joke, or at least irony, in all of this. Britain's importance in the world simply is nothing like what the country's solipsistic world-view leads it to believe it is, and its attempts to cow other countries and bring them into line behind it will simply backfire; budget airlines will continue to exist and can be, indeed already are, based in other European countries and the EU can get on quite nicely by simply ignoring the awkward squad on their offshore island. Maybe in a few years' time even the British will come to see what the rest of the world is well aware of: the country is just cutting off its nose to spite its face.