Thousands of jobs at risk as Airbus threatens to quit UK over Brexit

Posted On: 
22nd June 2018

Thousands of jobs could be lost after Airbus threatened to leave the UK in frustration at the lack of progress by Theresa May in the Brexit negotiations.

Airbus employs 14,000 people in the UK and supports a further 110,000 jobs.
PA Images

The aerospace company, which employs 14,000 people across the country, said it could relocate to China or elsewhere in Europe.

Tom Williams, the firm's chief operating officer, told The Times: "In the absence of any clarity, we have to assume the worst-case scenario. It is the dawning realisation that we now have to get on with it.”

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An internal assessment by the company - which supports a further 110,000 jobs in the UK economy - states that it will "reconsider its footprint in the country, its investments in the UK and its dependency on the UK" if Britain left the EU without a deal.

It is understood that Airbus - which made its views known directly to the Prime Minister at a Downing Street business round table three weeks ago - fears the lack of a customs agreement with the EU would be devastating for its supply chain.

The Cabinet has yet to agree what its approach to Britain's future customs relations with Europe should be, despite months of internal wrangling.

Mr Williams said: "The clock is ticking. If we decide now that we need one or two months of additional inventory because we are worried about these components getting stuck in the docks of Dover or Calais, then from a contingency point of view I have to do something.

"These are decisions we are in the process of making right now. We are in the process of instructing our suppliers to begin ramping up safety stocks of components."

A government spokesperson 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 aerospace... We do not expect a no-deal scenario to arise."

Labour MP Darren Jones MP, who represents Airbus workers in his Bristol North West constituency and supports the People’s Vote campaign for another EU referendum, said: "Time and time again the Government has been shown to listen only to hardline pro-Brexit MPs and not to the businesses that employ thousands of British workers, including Airbus.

"Thousands of skilled, well-paid jobs are now on the line because of the shambolic mess the Government have created over the Brexit negotiations."

Meanwhile, The Sun reports that Theresa May is to embark on a tour of European capitals in an attempt to gather support for her approach to Brexit.