Airbus threat over Brexit “completely inappropriate“ says UK Cabinet Minister
UK Cabinet Minister Jeremy Hunt said today the Brexit warning issued by Airbus last week in which the planemaker threatened to pull investment from the UK was “completely inappropriate.”
Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, Mr Hunt the Health and Social Care Secretary said Brexit discussions were at an “absolutely critical moment” and “we need to get behind Theresa May.”
Airbus issued its starkest warning yet to the UK Government that the company faces urgent risks to its business arising from the UK exiting the EU without a withdrawal agreement.
The planemaker says a ‘No Deal’ would lead to severe disruption and interruption of UK production and leave Airbus considering its future in the UK.
Mr Hunt told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show:
“I just thought it was completely inappropriate for businesses to be making these kind of threats for one simple reason.
We are in an absolutely critical moment in the Brexit discussions and what that means is that we need to get behind Theresa May to deliver the best possible Brexit – a clean Brexit.
What businesses want, and I was in business for 14 years, what they want is clarity and certainty.
“The more we undermine Theresa May, the more likely we are to end up with a fudge, which I think would be a disaster for everybody.”
Mr Hunt added: it was not “particularly surprising” that “multinational companies have qualms about Brexit, and secondly at this stage in the negotiations things felt pretty tricky.
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Leader of the Welsh Tory group of Assembly Members Andrew RT Davies criticised Airbus’ “threats to relocate its operations to China.”
Davies said the Airbus announcement did a “disservice” to the highly skilled and dynamic workforce at Broughton:
“Clearly Airbus is an important company to the United Kingdom and to Wales – but it’s worth remembering that it’s the dynamic highly skilled UK workforce that has made Airbus the success it has become.
Talking so casually about de-camping to China does those workers a disservice, and you’d think that Airbus was the first company to entertain slashing costs and by extension standards – and it doesn’t usually end well.”
Mr Davies’ comments came after Airbus published the Brexit risk assessment on Thursday which caused a storm in the media, but the Airbus statement makes no mention of China.
Aberconwy MP and fellow Tory Guto Bebb, told Mr Davies to pipe down and said his comments were “inflammatory.”
“He is the leader of the assembly group and whilst I am unaware of whether he consulted his colleagues before issuing his inflammatory statement he certainly did not consult with myself as an MP in North Wales.
“Shooting the messenger is an unworthy position for a politician to take not least when that politician aspires to lead a government in Wales. He should retract his comments.”
Jack Lopresti MP for Filton where Airbus has a wing assembly site believes EU member state governments were using Airbus to try and influence the UK Government:
Mr Lopresti said:
“Airbus made a profit reported to be approaching £4bn last year, were requesting further taxpayer funded support from Government.
One could be forgiven for thinking that some EU member state governments were using Airbus to try and influence the UK Government into giving them what they want in any future Brexit deal.
Airbus have used these heavy handed tactics before.
They threatened to leave the UK if we didn’t join the Euro, which, thank goodness, we didn’t.
During the Referendum they tried to interfere in the democratic process by writing letters to their employees instructing them how to vote.
This was another ridiculous empty threat from Airbus.”
However Delyn AM Hannah Blythyn AM said the warning from Airbus was a wake up call to the UK Government, she said:
“These comments by Airbus should act as a wake up call and the UK Government needs to act now in the interests of people’s livelihoods.
An anchor company, Airbus is a key employer with a highly skilled workforce that contributes significantly to the economy directly and through the wider supply chain.
The Welsh Government has warned time and again that the UK cutting itself off from the single market and customs union would ultimately put jobs under threat.
Westminster now needs to provide the clarity and assurances to Airbus to prevent significant job losses and the potential impacts of that on our wider economy.
I have worked closely with unions at Airbus and will continue to do so during this time.”
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