Airbus threatens to quit UK in the event of a hard Brexit

#Brexit special section Economy

The plane manufacturer Airbus said today that it would move its wing-building operation out of the UK if there is a no-deal Brexit.

Chief executive Tom Enders said crashing out of the EU without a deal would force the company to make ‘potentially very harmful decisions for the UK.’

He said it was a ‘disgrace’ that British-based firms are still unable to plan for Brexit and that claims that major firms would stay put no matter what were ‘Brexiteer madness.’

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

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

Airbus employs 14,000 people in the UK, including 6,000 at its wings factory at Broughton in Wales and 3,000 at Filton, near Bristol.

Enders said: “Don’t listen to the Brexiteer madness which asserts that, because we have huge plants here, we will not move and will always be here. They are wrong.”

Katherine Bennett, Airbus UK senior vice-president, said a no-deal Brexit would be ‘catastrophic’ for the firm, with border delays holding up delivery of components.

Airbus first warned about a no-deal Brexit last year, saying it would have to ‘reconsider its UK investments and long-term footprint in the country.’

The Business Minister Richard Harrington backed Mr Enders comments today and said Airbus was right to warn of the risks of a hard Brexit..

He told a meeting at the German embassy: “Crashing out is a disaster for business. Airbus is correct to say it publicly and I’m delighted they have done so.”

A government spokesperson said it was a ‘top priority’ to leave the EU with a deal that is good for business and protects jobs.

The Airbus warning comes days after two other companies announced plans to relocate their headquarters from the UK.

Sony is moving its European HQ to the Netherlands to avoid Brexit disruption and appliance maker Dyson is shifting its global head office from Wiltshire to Singapore.

But the European boss of Japanese company Fujitsu said it had no intention of moving out of London, saying  it had a ‘thriving business’ in the UK and new staff were being recruited.

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