Yesterday, I had a meeting at the Airbus offices at Filton, with their Senior Vice President Katherine Bennett, with other Senior Airbus managers, and with Richard Harrington MP, the Minister for Business and Industry. Other Aerospace companies such as GKN and Rolls Royce were also present.
Airbus, who made a profit reported to be approaching £4bn last year, were requesting further taxpayer funded support from Government. They have also invited the Prime Minister to open their new ‘Wing of the Future’ facility in Filton. At no point was Brexit mentioned by Airbus. Airbus seem to be in a state of confusion about their position.
One could be forgiven for thinking that some EU member state governments were using Airbus to try and influence the UK Government into giving them what they want in any future Brexit deal. Airbus have used these heavy handed tactics before. They threatened to leave the UK if we didn’t join the Euro, which, thank goodness, we didn’t. During the Referendum they tried to interfere in the democratic process by writing letters to their employees instructing them how to vote.
In recent months, they have tried to interfere in what was a perfectly legal and legitimate take-over bid by Melrose for GKN, saying: “It would be ‘practically impossible’ to give new work to the Aerospace and Automotive Energy Group should the turnaround specialist take it over."
This was another ridiculous empty threat from Airbus. Yesterday, there were GKN representatives around the boardroom table. We also undertook a visit to the GKN Western Approach facility where there was a lot of discussion regarding further investment in our area from both GKN and Airbus, as well as further collaboration between the two companies.
This morning I have spoken with Government colleagues, who have confirmed that we are working closely with companies to understand their concerns ahead of leaving the EU and alongside industry will invest almost £4bn by 2026 to ensure the UK remains a world leader in civil aerospace.
On Monday, I will be meeting Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to discuss Airbus’ statement. The employment and wellbeing of my constituents as Member of Parliament for Filton and Bradley Stoke will always be my highest priority, and I am struggling to believe this sabre rattling from Airbus is helpful or credible.