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Trump snubbed two Theresa May calls to end Bombardier threat, minister reveals

2 min read

Theresa May has twice called on Donald Trump directly to ramp up the pressure on Boeing into dropping its complaint over rival Bombardier, a Cabinet minister has said.

The US Department of Commerce's decision to rule in favour of the American giant in a dispute with the Canadian firm over claims of unfair subsidies could see tariffs of 220% slapped on parts built at its Northern Ireland base.

The move, which will not be finalised until February and is subject to appeal, could threaten 4,000 jobs at the plant - with around 1,000 employees directly involved in manufacturing the affected C-Series and hundreds more involved in the supply chain.

The issue will cause a further headache for the Prime Minister due to her reliance on the Democratic Unionist Party to prop up her minority Conservative government.

Business Secretary Greg Clark confirmed the Prime Minister and several of the Cabinet had spoken to the US President and other senior American officials in a bid to get them to encourage Boeing to drop its complaint.

“The Prime Minister has discussed the matter twice with President Trump stressing the crucial importance of Bombardier’s operations in Belfast and to ask the US government to do all it can to encourage Boeing to drop its complaint,” he said in a statement to the House.

“My Cabinet colleagues, including the Foreign Secretary, the Defence Secretary, the Chancellor, the Trade Secretary, the Northern Ireland secretary and myself have reinforced our serious concerns with amongst others the US Secretary of Commerce, the US Secretary of State, US Treasury Secretary, US trade representatives and other members of the administration as well as the EU Trade Commission.

He added: “The House should be aware that neither this government nor our counterparts in Canada will rest until this groundless action is ended.”

Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long Bailey in response accused the Government of “inaction” and that they were more concerned with keeping the US president onside ahead of post-Brexit trade talks.

“Are they afraid of being exposed in Northern Ireland for their failure to protect jobs or are they so keen to score a sweetheart trade deal with the US that they never want to wash their hands of this matter?,” she said.

“Clearly politics is being put ahead of the welfare of workers in Northern Ireland.

She added: “I fear that Bombardier and everyone who depends on the firm are considered a fair price to pay for a post-Brexit trade deal with President Trump by this Conservative government.”

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