Airbus warns of Brexit harmful decisions

Airbus A380 wing and tailImage copyright
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Airbus makes wings for the A380 and other models in the UK

European planemaker Airbus has warned that it could move wing-building out of the UK in the future if there is a no-deal Brexit.

The firm’s chief executive, Tom Enders, said the firm “will have to make potentially very harmful decisions for the UK” in the event of no deal.

Mr Enders said it was a “disgrace” that businesses could still not plan for Brexit.

In all, Airbus employs 14,000 people in the UK.

That includes 6,000 jobs at its main wings factory at Broughton in Wales, as well as 3,000 at Filton, near Bristol, where wings are designed and supported.

Mr Enders said: “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.”

He said that while the world’s second-largest aerospace group could not “pick up and move our large UK factories to other parts of the world immediately”, Airbus could be “forced to redirect future investments in the event of a no-deal Brexit”.

“And 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.”

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Getty Images

Image caption

The company has about 14,000 employees at 25 different UK sites

This is not the first time that Airbus has warned of the consequences for its business of a no-deal Brexit.

Last year, it issued a risk assessment saying that if the UK left the EU without a withdrawal deal, it “would force Airbus to reconsider its investments in the UK and its long-term footprint in the country”.

However, Mr Enders’ latest remarks suggest that the firm has toughened its stance since then.

“What’s changed now is that no-deal is clearly being seen as more of a realistic possibility. So diplomacy is being put to one side,” said BBC business correspondent Theo Leggett.

Mr Enders is due to leave the company in April.

MPs are putting forward alternative plans to Theresa May’s Brexit plan after it was voted down by Parliament last week.

The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March this year.

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