Downing Street dismisses Airbus jobs warning and insists UK will get good Brexit deal

Posted On: 
22nd June 2018

Downing Street has insisted that the Government will strike "a good deal" with the EU as it dismissed warnings from Airbus that Brexit could force it to leave the country.

Airbus has said it could leave the UK, putting thousands of jobs at risk.
PA Images

The aerospace giant has said the company, which employs 14,000 people in the UK, may be forced to relocate elsewhere in Europe or China because of the uncertainty caused by Britain quitting the EU.

Chief operating officer Tom 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."

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Officials from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are holding talks with Aerospace in the wake of the company's warning.

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said they were sure that the firm's fears were misplaced.

She said: "We are confident that we are going to get a good deal, one that ensures that trade is as free and frictionless as possible, including for the aerospace sector.

"The PM set out in her Mansion House speech that we want to remain part of the European Aviation Safety Agency and both the UK and the EU agreed that a final deal should ensure that the current level of connectivity is continued.

"The UK is a vital contributor to the success of the European aerospace industry and it's on no one's interests to disrupt the sector's cross-border supply chains.

"We are looking to secure a good deal that works for everyone, including the industry that Airbus are involved in."

Asked why the Prime Minister was pushing ahead with her Brexit strategy even though it appeared to be putting jobs at risk, the spokeswoman said: "Because people voted for it."

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said: "If more proof was needed that the Prime Minister should abandon her Brexit red lines, this is it. 

"The Government’s reckless decision to keep no deal on the table and to rule out a customs union or strong single market deal after Brexit is putting jobs and the economy at risk. 

"News that Airbus is considering pulling out of the UK will cause deep distress to the thousands of families who rely on the quality jobs and income that this major employer provides."

The Labour frontbencher added: "It’s imperative we get a deal with the EU that provides the reassurance necessary to keep skilled jobs in Britain - for workers today and for future generations. Ministers needs to start listening to legitimate concerns of businesses and get a grip of the Brexit negotiations."

But former British Chambers of Commerce boss John Longworth, of the pro-Brexit group Leave Means Leave, said: "The latest scare story from Airbus screams of more Project Fear.

"The French-run Airbus is a classic multi-national business that clearly doesn’t care about the UK as we embark on a new post-Brexit future, because it is intrinsically wrapped up in the EU and trying to undermine the UK Government’s negotiating position.

"The best way to ensure certainty is to declare for WTO terms now and prepare to leave the EU in March 2019, an outcome companies like Airbus are fervently seeking to frustrate."