We can all look back and remind ourselves of what we were told was going to happen if we had the temerity to vote to leave the European Union. The economy would be devastated, there would be rains of blood and cats would lie down with dogs. This has not happened and according to the predictions it should have done already. The process of freezing spines in this manner is known as Project Fear – shiver everyones’ goolies and the peasantry will vote to remain the villeins of Brussels.
That didn’t happen either.
One aspect of this was that Airbus would, the moment we so didn’t vote, up sticks and stop making the wings for their aircraft in the UK. Thousands, tens of thousands, would be jobless and bereft and that would serve us all right:
Some in aerospace lampooned it as the “Dr No video”. Sporting a black rollneck, this time last year Tom Enders, Airbus chief executive, released a video detailing his frustration at the stalled Brexit process and threatening dire consequences. Industry colleagues compared the message to a Bond baddie’s ultimatum.
Like the original super-villain with his demand for “one million dollars”, former German paratrooper Enders was in no mood to negotiate. “Airbus,” he warned, “is not dependent on the UK for our future. 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.”
Someone should have thought a little more about this. Historically the British have not reacted well to German military types insisting “Ve hav vays of making you…”. Rather more importantly it was always an empty threat.
What’s behind Airbus’s sudden U-turn on Brexit?
There has been no u-turn in anything other than public rhetoric. Things like wing manufacture for modern aircraft are not a building with some machines in it – things that can indeed be packaged up and moved, or replicated elsewhere easily enough. They’re entire ecosystems including those thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of skilled workers. Who cannot and will not all be packaged up and moved nor easily replicated. If Airbus were to move wing manufacture it would take them a good decade, at least. The cost of their doing so would not be worth it either.
That is, the original claim was a nonsense, all that has happened in this u-turn is that whoever was prompting Tom Enders is now admitting that they were just kidding. Kidding for reasons of political rhetoric. Airbus never was going to move wing manufacture out because of Brexit.
All that remains is to wok out how much else of Project Fear was politically motivated lying. Most of it…..