LONDON (AFP) – After warning that Britain had “no clue” over its Brexit plans, Airbus’s boss has welcomed new proposals for the divorce and urged the EU to give them a fair hearing.
The pan-European aviation giant employs nearly 15,000 people in Britain for the production of aircraft wings, and had warned its investment was at risk from a disorderly exit.
But after a day of high political drama in London, Airbus chief executive Tom Enders late Monday welcomed the compromise plan outlined by Prime Minister Theresa May, which seeks to maintain Britain’s close trading ties with the European Union.
Ms May’s government appears now to be “going in the right direction”, Mr Enders told the German Chamber of Commerce in London, according to a tweet by Airbus.
“We are not shy to request that Brussels & our other home countries are similarly pragmatic & fair,” he said.
On Friday, during a company presentation in London, Mr Enders had repeated the company’s stark concerns about what might happen if Britain should exit the EU without a deal.
“They seem to have no clue, or at least no consensus,” he said, urging Ms May to keep Britain in the EU’s customs union.
The government’s plan outlined later Friday does not go that far but would follow EU rules for trade in goods, raising hopes that long-stalled talks with the bloc can progress, to the benefit of Airbus and other major exporters that are deeply concerned about the impact on their operations in Britain.
Airbus warned last month that the country crashing out of the bloc without a deal next March would be “catastrophic” and force it to consider its investments.
Prime Minister May on Monday had to face down a political backlash against her Brexit strategy as both her Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit minister David Davis resigned in protest.