‘This could be worse than the loss of shipbuilding’ - fears grow in Portsmouth as Airbus threatens to leave the UK after hard Brexit

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THE leader of Portsmouth council has said he is ‘extremely fearful’ for 1,400 jobs in the city that could be lost as a result of Brexit.

Multinational aerospace firm Airbus announced it would pull out of the UK if a ‘no-deal’ Brexit goes ahead, which would lead to 14,000 jobs cut nationally.

Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Lib Dem leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson believed this would be the worst effect of Brexit on Portsmouth. He said: ‘There are 1,400 jobs at risk and they are highly-qualified positions in engineering. It makes me extremely fearful as the leader of the city – this would be a disaster.

‘These are just the sort of jobs we are trying to protect and grow more of. I have written to Airbus this morning saying I want to come and see them and find out what the exact problem is.

‘When shipbuilding left Portsmouth we were devastated by the loss of those 1,000 jobs – but this is bigger than shipbuilding. Those jobs were moved elsewhere in the UK. But if we lose these , that means the UK is out of the satellite industry.’

He added: ‘I will be writing to the secretary of state for industry, Greg Clark, to see if I can get him to come down here and meet local people here who work for Airbus. I will try to get him to understand the sort of deal that is needed by companies across the country for when we leave the EU which means jobs aren’t going to be lost.’

Airbus, which has a Defence and Space site in Anchorage Park, near Hilsea – said it would ‘reconsider its investments in the UK if Britain crashed out of the single market and customs union without a transition agreement.’

Tom Williams, the chief operating officer of Airbus Commercial Aircraft, said: ‘In any scenario, Brexit has severe negative consequences for the UK aerospace industry and Airbus in particular. Therefore, immediate mitigation measures would need to be accelerated.

‘While Airbus understands that the political process must go on, as a responsible business we require immediate details on the pragmatic steps that should be taken to operate competitively.’

The news comes a month after the Airbus told MPs it would have to move work on its sat-nav system, Galileo, from Portsmouth to the EU after Brexit.

Tory leader for Portsmouth, Cllr Donna Jones, said: ‘The Airbus jobs at risk in Portsmouth arise from the Galileo contract currently awarded to Airbus.

‘This contract is sadly being used as a pawn in the negotiations but my expectation is that the jobs can remain in the city and the government will support the ongoing research of space programmes.’