Theresa May phones Donald Trump in bid to save Belfast jobs

Posted On: 
12th September 2017

Theresa May contacted Donald Trump in a bid to save jobs at an airplane manufacturer in Belfast, following pressure from the Democratic Unionist Party.

Theresa May made the call to the president last week
PA Images

American manufacturer Boeing has complained to the US authorities that a deal between its Canadian rival Bombardier was unfairly funded by their native country – including a £113m loan from the British government for its new C-series plane. 

The US Department of Commerce is due to make a ruling later this month in a move which could hit the struggling firm with a punitive tariff of $30m per aircraft.

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That could lead to the loss of up to 4,500 jobs in Northern Ireland, were the factory to shut its doors for good.

The Times revealed Mrs May raised the issue with the US President in a phone call last Tuesday amid pressure from DUP leader Arlene Foster, whose MPs are currently in an arrangement to prop up the minority Conservative UK government.

Business Secretary Greg Clark and Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood have both travelled to the US to meet with Boeing officials in a bid to persuade them to drop the case.

The paper quotes BEIS officials describing the call as "constructive" and denied that ministers are trying to allay fears that the dispute could ruin a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.

An official at the department said: “I think the Trump administration is taking some time to think this through”.

A BEIS spokesman said: “This is a commercial matter but the UK government is working tirelessly to safeguard Bombardier’s operations and its highly skilled workers in Belfast.

“Ministers across government have engaged swiftly and extensively with Boeing, Bombardier, the US and Canadian governments. Our priority is to encourage Boeing to drop its case and seek a negotiated settlement with Bombardier.”

Gavin Robinson, the MP for Belfast East, said: “I welcome the massive effort made by the prime minister and her cabinet colleagues. This is hugely important for Belfast."