Airbus, one of the most vocal critics of the UK government’s handling of Brexit, have been accused of making an about turn. However, the European plane maker has been quick to deny the claims, saying that their stance has not changed.
Amid claims that the Airbus had changed its stance on Brexit, the plane maker has moved quickly to deny any alteration in its position. In a short tweet published two days ago, Airbus said:
We’re aware that an online article has suggested Airbus’ stance on Brexit may have changed. It hasn’t. We are still seeking clarity, while preparing for a no deal Brexit.
— Airbus In The UK (@AirbusintheUK) May 28, 2019
So what happened, and what’s the real situation? Let’s find out.
What’s been said?
The whole situation has come about due to what Airbus call an ‘online article’, without giving any source or credit to the purveyor. The ‘online article’ in question is understood to be an article published by Euractiv.
It highlighted apparent comments from CEO Guillaume Faury, said to have been made at their recent Innovation Days event in Toulouse. The article claims that the CEO said,
“We want to stay in the UK”, regardless of the Brexit outcome and that, “UK is part of Airbus and Airbus is part of the UK… and we would like to preserve that,”
Veteran BBC journalist Andrew Neil tweeted these comments, causing something of a social media storm:
Been abroad awhile. Assume this widely covered back in Blighty: “Airbus wants to stay in UK” whatever outcome of Brexit — new CEO Guillaume Faury. UK is “a very important pillar” for Airbus. “UK is part of Airbus and Airbus is part of the UK … we would like to preserve that”.
— Andrew Neil (@afneil) May 28, 2019
Clearly, if Airbus were saying that they no longer have any intention of leaving the UK in a situation of a no-deal Brexit, this could have massive implications for UK based manufacturing operations. Bloomberg previously reported that there are 14,000 workers and 110,000 British jobs supported by the European plane maker.
What Airbus say about Brexit
Since the whole Brexit issue began, Airbus have been somewhat vocal in their opposition to the UK’s proposed split from the EU. They have also been critical of the UK governments lack of progress, as well as their inability to provide any sort of certainty to companies like Airbus regarding what the future holds.
Former CEO Tom Enders went so far as to call the UK government’s handling as a ‘disgrace’, saying Airbus would look to move future wing building operations away from the UK if Brexit became a no-deal situation.
Mr. Enders also said that:
“If there is a no-deal Brexit, we at Airbus will have to make potentially very harmful decisions for the U.K… 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.”
Have Airbus change their stance?
Airbus have moved quickly to distance itself from the remarks made in the article. As their tweet states, their stance has not changed. They are still looking for clarity from the UK government, and are preparing for a situation where the nation crashes out of the EU with no deal in place.
In an age of ‘fake news’ and social media hype, it’s important to listen carefully when anything like this is shared. Seeking clarity is always a wise move, and here at Simple Flying, we don’t think there’s any mileage to the rumors that Airbus have done a U turn on their previous stance.
The UK has already passed the original deadline to leave the EU, which should have been the 29th March 2019. It’s initial extension to the 12th April has also been and gone. Now, the UK is on course to leave the EU on 31st October 2019 but is still struggling to make a deal with the EU.