It has happened. After all the deniable job losses - financial services to Frankfurt and other European centres, Land Rover Discovery to Slovakia, for instance - has come one great big wake-up call to the Brexiteers. Airbus, which employs 14,000 people directly in the UK, principally at Filton, near Bristol, and Broughton, in north-east Wales, and supports 110,000 further jobs, has warned a no-deal Brexit will see it leave the UK.
According to the BBC, “The European planemaker said the warning was not part of ‘project fear’, but its ‘dawning reality’”, also telling “Last week, the outgoing president of the CBI said sections of UK industry faced extinction unless the UK stayed in the EU customs union”. Looks like the CBI was right. And there is more.
The customs union “brings together the EU's 28 members in a duty-free area, with a common import tariff for non-EU goods … Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out staying in the customs union. The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019 … The UK government is considering two other options … Michel Barnier, the EU's Brexit negotiator, has said that both options are unrealistic”. And the result of this?
While Theresa May and her pals are fartarsing about, businesses are looking at the looming timescale, assessing the ability of the Government to get its collective heads out from up its arses, and concluding that the only way is across the North Sea from Essex.
And what Airbus has done is to present a statement of reality, no more, no less - with the sure and certain knowledge that if they up sticks, many more companies will follow.
So what has been the reaction from all those who said it wasn’t going to happen? How are all the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Kool-Aid drinkers promoting “Global Britain” and “Freedom” reacting to the chill wind of the real world this morning?
Tory MP Stephen Crabb says this news is “A wake-up call”. Jonathan Lis had little time for that, reminding him “Which is why Crabb voted against the single market, customs union and a meaningful vote to prevent a no-deal”.
Anna Soubry was more forthright: “#Airbus is far from alone raising v real & serious concerns about lack of clarity from Govt about our future trading relationship w #EU As a former Bis Minister this is verging on a dereliction of duty from a Government & party that has always traditionally been party of business”. If only she’d been a real rebel.
Tory MP George Freeman declared the news “Seriously worrying” and claimed he would be “seeking urgent reassurances from Cabinet ministers”. Steve Peers told him where he got off: “Airbus had to warn of the threat posed by a ‘no deal’ outcome precisely because you and your ‘rebel’ colleagues failed to take sufficient steps to prevent it. If jobs are lost you will not escape your major share of the responsibility with ‘crocodile tears’ tweets”.
Freeman also garnered Nul Points from David Allen Green: “‘I didn't realise businesses would prepare for “no deal”,’ sobs MP who voted for amendment providing that government could keep 'no deal' as an option”. Quite.
Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian considered the sheer idiocy of it all: “‘The company directly employs 14,000 and supports a further 110,000 jobs in the UK.’ Still, we must keep jumping off this cliff. It’s the will of the people”.
The ever-reliable Faisal Islam of Sky News (see his full thread on Airbus HERE) put it directly: “Airbus on ‘severe disruption/ unrecoverable delays/ billions in lost turnover’ sign of disbelief of exasperated businesses on direction of travel on Brexit, finally going public, not with threats, but with logical consequences of political choices”. It’s not a threat.
Meanwhile, Tom Jamieson looked on the bright side of that Times front page: “Peak Brexit front page - yes your high skilled engineering job might be disappearing but on the bright side you'll have a right old laugh out in the fields all day picking fruit”.
And then came those pretending it wasn’t really happening. Now, Zelo Street does not often venture into the realm of what the official BBC announcer calls Very Strong Language, but the counter spin was sheer, unadulterated fuckwittery. And Primus Inter Pares when it comes to being a fuckwit is Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies, who has called the Airbus announcement a “threat” and told “Clearly Airbus is an important company to the United Kingdom and to Wales - but it’s worth remembering that it’s the dynamic highly skilled UK workforce that has made Airbus the success it has become”.
Stuff all use blustering about that when 124,000 jobs are about to pile off across the Channel, is it, numb nuts? Former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage had also sunk to the Davies level: “Hardly surprising Airbus are threatening us today when they've taken billions in EU funding”. Like he gives a shit when he’s in the USA courting the alt-right and the management of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse).
And the pinnacle of Airbus fuckwit counter spin came from the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who have proclaimed “Airbus Fearmongering” and carped “This is Project Fear 2.0 from big business and a Remoan comic”. Wrong, clowns, it’s what is going to happen if we carry on over the cliff edge.
Today, we have seen the future of the UK outside the EU. We have also seen the inability of many of those here today and gone tomorrow politicians to face up to that prospect honestly and openly. And we have seen just what the most enthusiastic Brexit proponents are really like. But the worst thing is - we were warned, and many just waved it away.
Airbus has told us that Shit Just Got Real. Sadly, the politicians and pundits haven’t.