airbus plane

Brexit jeopardising 14,000 Airbus jobs in UK if EU deal can’t be reached

Image credit: DT

Airbus has warned that it could pull out of the UK entirely in the event of a “no deal” result from Britain’s on-going Brexit negotiations, threatening the jobs of 14,000 people.

In a memo issued yesterday, the company said it would “reconsider its investments in the UK and its long-term footprint in the country” if Britain crashed out of the single market and customs union without a transition agreement.

Airbus, which makes wings for all its passenger jets in Britain, said that leaving both the EU’s single market and customs union immediately and without any agreed transition would lead to “severe disruption and interruption” of production.

“Put simply, a no-deal scenario directly threatens Airbus’ future in the UK,” said Tom Williams, chief operating officer of Airbus Commercial Aircraft.

Publishing a Brexit “risk assessment” on its web site, the firm also called on the government to extend the planned transition period due to run until December 2020 if a deal is agreed, saying it was too short for the business to reorganise its supply chain.

If there was no extension it would “carefully monitor any new investments in the UK and refrain from extending the UK suppliers/partners base”, it said.

Labour MP Darren Jones, whose Bristol North West constituency contains Airbus’s Filton wing plant, attacked the government for only listening to “hardline pro-Brexit MPs and not to the businesses that employ thousands of British workers, including Airbus”.

He added: “Thousands of skilled, well-paid jobs are now on the line because of the shambolic mess the government have created over the Brexit negotiations.”

Two years on from the Brexit vote, businesses are starting to speak out over uncertainty about the trading and regulatory environment once Britain leaves the EU next March.

Echoing calls from Germany’s Siemens earlier this week, Airbus said it needed immediate details on how its operations would have to be organised.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer hit out on Twitter, saying: “If proof was needed that the PM’s Brexit red lines need to be abandoned (and fast), this is it.”

Former shadow chancellor Chris Leslie wrote: “And we’re all supposed to go along with this Government’s disastrous #Brexit strategy?! Constituents in manufacturing & service sectors who jobs are at risk will be unforgiving of any more MP fence-sitting ‘constructive ambiguity’.”

Ben Bradshaw described it as “devastating news”, adding: “When are we going to wake up to the disaster of this Tory #BrexitShambles??”, while Chuka Umunna questioned: “What will it take for the establishments running Westminster to wake up!”

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Stephen Crabb described the news as a “wake-up call”.

Airbus in total supports 100,000 jobs in Britain, with 14,000 people directly employed by the company.

The company said it would need a €1bn extra stockpile of parts to cope with disruption from a no-deal Brexit and warned in March that it would need to build up a special buffer stock.

A British government spokeswoman said: “We have made significant progress towards agreeing a deep and special partnership with the EU to ensure trade remains as free and frictionless as possible, including in the aerospace sector, and we’re confident of getting a good deal that is mutually beneficial.

“Given the good progress that we are continuing to make in the negotiations we do not expect a no-deal scenario to arise.”

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