Airbus Threatens to Leave the UK Over Brexit Uncertainty

Airbus is making some plans to leave the United Kingdom in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit. The said move could result in the loss of thousands of jobs in the United Kingdom.

The firm directly employs 14,000 people at several of its sites including Stevenage, Bristol, North Wales, and Portsmouth. However, 110,000 jobs are also vulnerable at the companies which are supplying the aircraft maker.

In one of the most crucial interventions by a major manufacturer since the referendum was passed two years ago, it announced a “risk assessment” on its website saying that  it would “reconsider its investments in the UK, and its long-term footprint in the country” once the United Kingdom left the customs union and single market without a transition agreement.

Airbus also said that the current planned transition period to 2020 was considered to be too short for businesses to be able to reorganise their supply chains.

The chief operating officer of Airbus Commercial Aircraft, Tom Williams, stated: “In any scenario, Brexit has severe negative consequences for the UK aerospace industry and Airbus in particular.”

He added: “Therefore, immediate mitigation measures would need to be accelerated.

“While Airbus understands that the political process must go on, as a responsible business we require immediate details on the pragmatic steps that should be taken to operate competitively.”

He continued: “Without these, Airbus believes that the impacts on our UK operations could be significant.

“We have sought to highlight our concerns over the past 12 months, without success.

“Far from ‘project fear’, this is a dawning reality for Airbus.

He concluded: “Put simply, a no-deal scenario directly threatens Airbus’s future in the UK.”

The said report has drawn a swift reaction from various politicians, with Sir Keir Starmer, shadow Brexit secretary, saying in a tweet: “If proof was needed that the PM’s Brexit red lines need to be abandoned (and fast), this is it.”

Once Airbus leaves the United Kingdom, the production would be relocated to China, the United States of America, or some other country in Europe.

The risk assessment poses a gloomy scene for the high-tech manufacturing of the United Kingdom if an agreement cannot be reached with the European Union.

It states: “A no-deal Brexit must be avoided, as it would force Airbus to reconsider its footprint in the country, its investments in the UK and at large its dependency on the UK.”

It added: “Given the ‘no-deal/hard Brexit’ uncertainties, the company’s dependence on and investment in the flagship Wing Of Tomorrow programme would also have to be revisited, and corresponding key competencies grown outside the UK.

“This extremely negative outcome for Airbus would be catastrophic.

It continued: “It would impair our ability to benefit from highly qualified British resources, it would also severely undermine UK efforts to keep a competitive and innovative aerospace industry, while developing high-value jobs and competencies.”

However, Downing Street insisted that it had a “good dialogue” with Airbus and that the company “continues to speak to them”.

On Friday, a Downing Street spokesperson said that the business department was “speaking with” some officials from the aerospace giant .

Number 10 earlier defended the “significant progress” that were made in negotiations to “to ensure trade remains as free and frictionless as possible, including in the aerospace sector”.

Number 10 stated: “We’re confident of getting a good deal that is mutually beneficial.

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

“The government is working closely with companies to understand their concerns ahead of leaving the EU and alongside industry will invest almost £4bn by 2026 to ensure the UK remains a world leader in civil aerospace.”