Airbus warns government not to listen to Brexiteers’ ‘madness’

PUBLISHED: 09:12 24 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:38 24 January 2019

An Airbus wing assembly factory in Broughton, North Wales. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA.

An Airbus wing assembly factory in Broughton, North Wales. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Airbus has torn into the government’s handling of Brexit - slamming the Brexiteers’ “madness” who assume that it will remain in Britain even if Brexit damages the economy.

Tom Enders, chief executive of the aerospace giant, said Brexit could force Airbus to make “potentially very harmful decisions” about its UK operations.

The company employs more than 14,000 people in the UK with around 110,000 more jobs connected in supply chains.

Urging Britons not to listen to “Brexiteers’ madness” that the company was too established in the UK to leave, the business leader warned there are “plenty of countries” that would love to build its plane parts.

“In a global economy the UK no longer has the capability to go it alone. Major aerospace projects are multinational affairs,” Enders said in a video message.

“It is a disgrace that, more than two years after the result of the 2016 referendum, businesses are still unable to plan properly for the future.

“We, along with many of our peers, have repeatedly called for clarity, but we still have no idea what is really going on here.”

Enders said Britain’s multibillion-pound aerospace sector, a world-leader for a century, is “standing at a precipice”.

“Brexit is threatening to destroy a century of development based on education, research and human capital,” he said.

“If there’s a no-deal Brexit, we at Airbus will have to make potentially very harmful decisions for the UK.”

“Please don’t listen to the Brexiteers’ madness which asserts that ‘because we have huge plants here we will not move and we will always be here’. They are wrong,” Enders added.

“Of course it is not possible to pick up and move our large UK factories to other parts of the world immediately. However, aerospace is a long-term business and we could be forced to redirect future investments in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

“And, make no mistake, there are plenty of countries out there who would love to build the wings for Airbus aircraft.”

Owen Smith MP, the Labour MP and a Best for Britain supporter, said: “The damage caused by Brexit won’t fly with big businesses like Airbus, and certainly won’t fly with the British people. Jobs and livelihoods are at risk.

“If companies like Airbus, or GE Aviation in my own patch, disinvest in Britain as a consequence of our leaving the EU, the Brexiteers in parliament should never be forgiven.”

A government spokesman told TNE: “The UK is a world leader in aerospace. We are the home of the jet engine, the wing factory of the world and are world-renowned for our skills and capabilities in the most technically-advanced parts of aerospace manufacturing.

“It remains our top priority to leave the EU with a good deal; a deal that is good for business, will protect jobs and prosperity, and provide the certainty that business needs.”

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