Airbus No Deal

The manufacturer has hit out at the UK government, branding its handling of Brexit “a disgrace”.

As the UK edges closer to Brexit businesses are still lacking clarity and amidst a climate of uncertainty, major UK firms are making yet starker warnings to the government.

Yesterday, one of the largest manufacturing companies in the UK, Airbus, called the government’s handling of Brexit a “disgrace” as it threatened to leave the UK if there was a no-deal Brexit. Airbus Chief executive Tom Ender recorded a video message in which he said in no uncertain terms, if the UK leaves without a deal, the aerospace group would have to make “potentially very harmful decisions for the UK”.

As three chambers of commerce representing the metro regions of Bristol and the West of England, Greater Manchester and London, we share these concerns. As well as direct job losses, the relocation of major companies such as Airbus will have dire consequences for SMEs that depend on the complex supply chains that stem from major companies choosing to base their operations in the UK.

We also welcome the remarks of business minister Richard Harrington, who government said: “I was delighted to read Airbus’s comments this morning because it is telling it like it is,” before warning that a no-deal Brexit would be “a total disaster for the economy”.

In response to yesterday’s words from Airbus, Phil Smith, Managing Director of Business West said:

“Our politicians are in real danger of sleepwalking into the most damaging economic act upon our region’s economy in living memory. We call upon them, and the UK government, to act now to secure the region’s economic future and take steps now to remove the threat of a no deal Brexit.”

“When a chief executive says that their sector “stands at a precipice” and that Brexit “is threatening to destroy a century of development based on education, research and human capital”, we should take notice. We should also be aware that this language represents not just the level of threat facing the industry but also the level of frustration many businesses now feel with the state of Brexit plans and the current paralysis in Parliament.  

Research from Business West shows that a growing number of local aerospace supply chain and wider manufacturing companies have now started to implement contingency plans to cope with the risks from Brexit. This has included shifting logistics and warehousing to the EU, revising recruitment and investment plans, setting up EU legal identities to cope with regulatory risks, looking at stockpiling or holding off on further investment decisions and moving part of the company to the EU.