Owen Smith issues Northern Ireland jobs warning to May over Bombardier row
Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Smith last night warned Prime Minister Theresa May there was a "clear and present danger" to Northern Ireland manufacturing jobs because of a trade dispute between US aerospace giant Boeing and Canadian plane-maker Bombardier.
The US company alleges Bombardier - which employs thousands of staff here - received unfair subsidies, including loans from the British and Canadian Governments, which allowed it to sell its CSeries aircraft at below-market prices.
But the Pontypridd Labour MP said in his letter that it would be devastating to the province's economy if Boeing's claims against the Canadian firm were upheld.
"I cannot stress enough how concerning this damaging trade dispute is to the people of Northern Ireland," he wrote.
"As you are no doubt aware, the CSeries aircraft wings were developed and are manufactured in the UK at Bombardier's Belfast facility, where it employs over 4,200 people.
"Bombardier is the largest manufacturing company in Northern Ireland and produces around 10% of Northern Ireland's total manufacturing exports.
"Your government has made much of our special relationship with the United States and the ease with which we expect to secure favourable terms of trade in the years after Brexit. This issue is an early test of those promises to the British people.
"If Boeing do not to drop the case, which relates to a plane for which Boeing makes no competitor aircraft, and the preliminary duty determination due on September 25 were to rule in its favour, the subsequent application of tariffs on CSeries aircraft would deal an immensely damaging blow to the Belfast facility, the people of Northern Ireland, and to UK manufacturing."
In his letter, Mr Smith also calls on Mrs May to reveal the contents of her conversation last week with US President Donald Trump on the Boeing-Bombardier dispute.
"I welcome reports that you have intervened directly in this matter by raising the issue in a telephone conversation with President Trump," he wrote.
"However, I remain profoundly concerned that there is no indication that Boeing are set to withdraw their action - and without that step there is a clear and present danger that the Bombardier plant in NI and the many thousands of jobs it supports are in jeopardy."
The Labour MP also sought assurances from the Prime Minister that Bombardier jobs in Northern Ireland would not be sacrificed for a post-Brexit free trade deal with the United States.