LONDON – Airbus Chief Executive Officer, Tom Enders, has said that it is a “disgrace” that businesses in the UK could still not plan for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (BREXIT), enroute to take place on March 29, 2019.
Enders added that the firm “will have to make potentially very harmful decisions in the UK” if the country leaves without a deal, which is looking ever more likely day-by-day.
This is due to the political nature within the UK Parliament, striking down Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal deal, forcing her to go back to the drawing board on a new agreement.
Airbus has a significant presence in the UK, with around 14,000 people working across five sites.
About 9,000 people work in Broughton and Filton, where the wings of several Airbus aircraft are assembled, followed by 2,200 people in Portsmouth and Stevenage for Defense and Space, as well as 900 Information Security employees in Newport.
Enders continued with his political attack, going after the Brexiteers and the government. “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 enthused.
“And make no mistake, there are plenty of countries out there who would love to build the wings for Airbus aircraft,” he threatened.
“Brexit is threatening to destroy a century of development based on education, research and human capital.”
A spokesperson to the UK government responded to this, adding some level of reassurance to businesses about a potential no-deal.
“The UK is a world leader in aerospace. We are the home of the jet engine, the wing factory of the world and are world-renowned for our skills and capabilities in the most technically-advanced parts of aerospace manufacturing,” he said.
“It remains our top priority to leave the EU with a good deal; a deal that is good for business, will protect jobs and prosperity, and provide the certainty that business needs.”
This second blow came after a risk assessment that was issued by the manufacturer if the UK left without a deal.
The assessment said that if this is the case, then it “would force Airbus to reconsider its investments in the UK and its long-term footprint in the country.”
This means that Enders is taking even more of a harder stance against the UK government, which will no doubt add significant pressure on the government to keep Airbus’ investment in the country.
That being said, Enders is due to leave his job in April, with Guillaume Faury set to take his place.
It will be interesting to see what Faury’s vision for the UK will be in a post-BREXIT world and whether that will be similar to Enders’ position on it all.