Airbus threatens to leave UK if Brexit happens without deal
Iran Press TV
Fri Jun 22, 2018 02:45PM
Aviation giant Airbus has threatened that it could leave the United Kingdom if the country exits the European Union (EU) without a transition agreement.
In a risk assessment report published on Thursday, the European plane-maker warned that London's departure from the EU's single market and customs union immediately and without a transition deal would lead to "severe disruption and interruption of UK production," saying that "this scenario would force Airbus to reconsider its investments in the UK, and its long-term footprint in the country."
Airbus also warned that a no-deal Brexit could have "catastrophic consequences" for its production plans and put thousands of British jobs at risk.
"This is a dawning reality for Airbus…Put simply, a No Deal scenario directly threatens Airbus' future in the UK. Therefore, immediate mitigation measures would need to be accelerated," Tom Williams, chief operating officer of Airbus's commercial aircraft division, said in an emailed statement.
"We've come to the point where we have to make serious decisions. We can't continue with the current vacuum in terms of clarity ... 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. Without these, Airbus believes that the impacts on our UK operations could be significant," he added.
The firm called on the UK to extend the planned transition period due to run until December 2020, saying it was "too short" for the business to reorganize its supply chain.
Airbus directly employs 14,000 people in Britain and supports more than 100,000 jobs in a wider supply chain in the country.
"Over the next weeks we need to get clarify. We are already beginning to press the button on our crisis actions ... We have got to be able to protect our employees, our customers and our shareholders and we can't do that in the current situation," Williams noted.
The British government said it was "listening" to the concerns of Airbus and that the company regularly spoke to ministers.
"We are confident that we are going to get a good deal, one that ensures that trade is as free and frictionless as possible, including for the aerospace sector," British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokeswoman said, adding that officials from the business department were meeting with Airbus on Friday.
"The UK makes a vital contribution to the success of the European aerospace industry and it is in no one's interest to disrupt the sector's cross-border supply chain. We have made good progress. Now we are working towards a full agreement in October and part of that work is listening to businesses," she noted.
The British government has faced fierce criticism both at home and by the EU for its lack of clarity on its Brexit strategy.
In Britain's 2016 referendum, 52 percent, or 17.4 million people, voted to leave the EU while 48 percent, or 16 million, voted to stay.
May's government is divided over Brexit. She campaigned for a "remain" vote in 2016, but now insists Britain will leave on March 29, 2019 and there will be no rerun of the Brexit referendum.
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