Airbus Could Pull out of the UK Due To Brexit

Airbus Could Pull out of the UK Due To Brexit

The head of Airbus has called the Government’s handling of Brexit a ‘disgrace’ and has warned that the company could pull out of the UK if its ability to compete on the global stage is harmed. Tom Enders, chief executive of the aerospace giant, said a no-deal Brexit could force Airbus, which employs more than 14,000 people in the UK with around 110,000 more jobs connected in supply chains, to make ‘potentially very harmful decisions’ about its UK operations.

“In a global economy the UK no longer has the capability to go it alone. Major aerospace projects are multinational affairs. It is a disgrace that, more than two years after the result of the 2016 referendum, businesses are still unable to plan properly for the future. We, along with many of our peers, have repeatedly called for clarity, but we still have no idea what is really going on here,” said Mr Enders.

Although Chancellor Philip Hammond is telling leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos that post-Brexit Britain will still be a ‘great place to do business’, Mr Enders said Britain’s multibillion-pound aerospace sector is ‘standing at a precipice’.

“Brexit is threatening to destroy a century of development based on education, research and human capital. If there’s a no-deal Brexit, we at Airbus will have to make potentially very harmful decisions for the UK,” he said.

Airbus’s UK operations generate around £6 billion of turnover annually, making it the country’s largest aerospace company. At its 25 sites it builds components for a broad spectrum of products from planes to helicopters and satellites.

“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,’ Mr Enders said.

“Of course it is not possible to pick up and move our large UK factories to other parts of the world immediately. However, aerospace is a long-term business and we 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.

Airbus would not be the first one to take such drastic decisions, with Brexit-backing businessman Sir James Dyson is to relocate the Dyson head office from the UK to Singapore. This means Dyson is no longer a British registered company and Singapore will become its main tax base.

Ferry operator P&O also said it would re-register its UK fleet under the flag of Cyprus so it could continue to use EU tax arrangements after Brexit. Electronics firm Sony announced that it will move its European headquarters from London to Amsterdam to avoid potential customs complications after Britain leaves the EU – one of several companies shifting its legal base to an EU member state.

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