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Does the Secretary of State agree that the continued operation of Airbus in the UK is vital to the UK economy and that we need to take seriously its worries and concerns? Alternatively, does he support the comments of the International Trade Secretary, who said that we should ignore the views of business? Or does he agree with the views of the Health Secretary, who said that it was inappropriate of Airbus to raise concerns? Finally, does he support the more direct approach of the Foreign Secretary, who said, “F*** business”? I know that the Foreign Secretary has to be elsewhere today; I believe that he has gone as far as Afghanistan to avoid the Heathrow vote. Are not those comments indicative of the chaos in Government over Brexit and of the Government’s approach to anyone who dares to raise genuine concerns?
Airbus has been raising those concerns privately for 12 months and getting absolutely nowhere. Can the Secretary of State explain why it is now, when it has done it publicly, that it is shouted down by Cabinet Ministers? Will he meet me and representatives from Airbus to address the serious concerns raised in the report? Does he accept that the lead-in times for investment in aerospace are long and that the sums of money are huge? For Airbus, it is all about securing the next generation of wing work, and these decisions are being taken now.
Is it not the case that, without clarity on Brexit, investment could be placed outside the UK—either in the EU itself or in low-cost producer countries such as China where the company has a plant? Airbus’s concerns are real and shared by many other manufacturers such as BMW and Siemens. The Government need to wake up and listen rather than just address Tory infighting.