Belfast Telegraph

No deal on Brexit 'the worst outcome' for the UK, warns aerospace industry

The British aerospace industry has rejected Theresa May's Brexit mantra of "no deal is better than a bad deal", just days after the Prime Minister's General Election humiliation.

In a further sign that businesses and industry bodies feel more emboldened since the Conservative Party lost its majority last week, trade body ADS warned that "no deal is the worst outcome for the UK".

ADS, which represents the aerospace, defence, security and space sectors, added that since the "political context" has changed, a fresh approach to Brexit is needed for the £31.8 billion sector.

Chief executive Paul Everitt said: "The political context in the UK and elsewhere in Europe has changed.

"Last week, the country signalled it wanted a more collaborative approach. The Government needs to build a strong consensus on the priorities and options for a successful Brexit.

"No deal is the worst outcome for the UK and Europe. Finding the best agreement will require compromise and pragmatic decisions by the UK and its European partners."

Theresa May has repeatedly said that "no deal is better than a bad deal" when it comes to Brexit negotiations, raising the prospect of the UK having to fall back on WTO trading rules as it crashes out of the single market and customs union.

But ADS is calling for all options to remain on the table, including access to the single market, membership of the customs union, remaining within European regulatory regimes and examining any controls on freedom of movement.

ADS' clarion call comes after Airbus - which employs 10,000 people across sites in Filton and Broughton - warned that it would be "very easy to have a new plant somewhere in the world for new projects" in the event of a hard Brexit.

The sector as a whole employs 120,000 people in the UK, including 3,800 apprentices.

Mr Everitt added: "Aerospace is one of the foundation stones of the UK economy and it continues to grow, delivering high-value jobs and billions of pounds of vital manufacturing exports.

"But like any other sector it faces challenges and cannot afford to be complacent.

"The UK's long-term prosperity depends on healthy high-value manufacturing sectors and the Government must put further political and financial commitment behind its industrial strategy for aerospace, or risk the UK losing out to overseas competitors."

Financial services, hospitality, farming and manufacturing trade bodies have all warned of calamity if the Tories follow through on a so-called hard Brexit, which would put hundreds of thousands of British jobs at risk.