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Airbus CEO slams UK over ‘disgraceful’ no-deal Brexit

THE chief executive of Airbus UK has ominously warned that the European aircraft manufacturer will “re-direct future investments” in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In a video posted on the plane-maker’s website on 24 January, Tom Enders declares: “Make no mistake, there are plenty of countries out there who would love to build the wings for Airbus aircraft.”

He further urges: “Please don’t listen to the Brexiteers’ madness, which asserts that because we have huge plants here [in the UK], we will not move, and we will always be here.”

The UK is on the verge of withdrawing from the European Union without an agreement, on 29 March this year.

His shot across the UK’s bows comes after Katherine Bennett, his senior vice-president, confirmed to a UK House of Commons select committee in November that new investments had been put on hold, writes Thelma Etim.

Airbus: ‘Businesses are still unable to plan properly for the future’

Airbus usually aims to spend some £500 million annually on research and development projects, Bennett revealed, but she would not be drawn on how many millions the UK may have lost out on since the Brexit referendum in 2016.

The company has more than 14,000 employees based in the UK, with a further 110,000 working in jobs supported by the plane-maker’s UK programmes, which generates about £6 billion of turnover every year.

Chief executive Enders continues: “It is a disgrace that more than two years after the result of the 2016 referendum, businesses are still unable to plan properly for the future.

“We, along with many of our peers, have repeatedly called for clarity. But we still have no idea what is really going on here.”

The CEO ends his speech by calling on the UK to unite and devise an orderly exit from the EU. “If you are really sure that Brexit is best for Britain, come together and deliver a pragmatic withdrawal agreement that allows for an orderly Brexit,” he concludes.

‘The UK no longer has the capability to go it alone’

Read a transcript of part of the speech below:

“The UK’s aerospace sector now stands at the precipice.

“Brexit is threatening to destroy a century of development based on education, research and human capital.

“If there is a no-deal Brexit, we at Airbus will have to make potentially very harmful decisions for the UK, which would be ironic considering that, back in the 1990s and mid-1990s it was the UK (aircraft) industry that were the architects of greater European aerospace integration.

“Please don’t listen to the Brexiteers’ madness, which asserts that because we have huge plants here, we will not move, and we will always be here. They are wrong. Of course, it is not possible to pick up and move our large UK factories to other parts of the world immediately.

“However, aerospace is a long-term business and we could be forced to re-direct future investments in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

“Make no mistake, there are plenty of countries out there who would love to build the wings for Airbus aircraft.

“In a global economy, the UK no longer has the capability to go it alone. Major aerospace projects are multi-national affairs.  It is a disgrace that more than two years after the result of the 2016 referendum, businesses are still unable to plan properly for the future.

“We, along with many of our peers, have repeatedly called for clarity. But we still have no idea what is really going on here.

“Airbus has more than 14,000 employees here (in the UK), with a further roughly 110,000 working in jobs supported by our UK programmes, which generates roughly £6 billion of turnover every year.

“As we prepare to celebrate Airbus’ 50thanniversary, we at Airbus look back fondly on everything we have achieved with our magnificent UK workforce.

“The global market for aviation is growing at five per cent each year. But we are not dependent on the UK for our future. Airbus will survive and thrive whatever the outcome. The question is: does the UK want to be part of that future success?

“If you are really sure that Brexit is best for Britain, come together and deliver a pragmatic withdrawal agreement that allows for an orderly Brexit.”

Video published by YouTube

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