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Airbus chief warns aerospace giant could quit Britain amid Brexit 'disgrace'

Credit: PA Images

The head of Airbus, which employs more than 6,000 people in Wales, has has torn into the Government's handling of Brexit, branding it a "disgrace".

Tom Enders said the aerospace giant could pull out of the UK if its ability to compete on the global stage is harmed by a no-deal departure.

In a video posted to YouTube, he 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.

– Tom Enders, Chief Executive, Airbus
Airbus' wings are made at a factory in Broughton in Flintshire Credit: PA Images

Business minister Richard Harrington was reported to have said he was "delighted" by comments from Airbus boss Tom Enders, adding that he did not mind if he got the sack for speaking out against a no-deal Brexit.

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Chancellor Philip Hammond is preparing to tell leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday that post-Brexit Britain will still be a "great place to do business".

However, Mr Enders said Britain's multibillion-pound aerospace sector, a world-leader for a century, 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.

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.

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.

– Tom Enders, Chief Executive, Airbus

Unite Wales Regional Secretary, Peter Hughes, said Airbus is "absolutely central to the future prosperity of Wales".

First Minister Mark Drakeford called on the prime minister to "act responsibly" and "immediately rule out no deal".

Economy Minister Ken Skates said the UK government was "needlessly putting tens of thousands of skilled, well paid jobs at risk".