Brexit: Airbus taken seriously, says UK minister

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media captionBusiness Secretary Greg Clark said companies were "entitled to be listened to with respect"

Airbus and other companies calling for a Brexit deal with the EU should be taken seriously, the UK business secretary has told MPs.

Greg Clark was responding to an urgent Commons question from Mark Tami, the Labour MP for Alyn and Deeside.

His constituency is home to the Airbus wings plant in Broughton.

The planemaker said it could leave the UK and cut thousands of jobs if the UK leaves the single market and customs union without a transition deal.

The company employs 14,000 people at 25 sites in the UK, with around half of its employees in Wales.

Mr Clark's comments came after UK defence minister and Welsh Tory MP Guto Bebb criticised "dismissive attitudes shown towards our business community by senior Cabinet ministers" which he said were "both unworthy and inflammatory".

Mr Bebb had also criticised Welsh Conservative assembly leader Andrew RT Davies after the AM accused Airbus of exaggerating.

image captionMark Tami said Airbus had raised concerns privately but was getting "nowhere"

The UK government's health secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Andrew Marr show on Sunday that "threats" by firms of job losses and plant closures over Brexit were "inappropriate".

Mr Tami told Mr Clark that Airbus's concerns "were real" and that the UK government needed "to wake up and listen [to business] rather than address Tory infighting".

"Airbus have been raising these concerns privately for 12 months and getting absolutely nowhere," Mr Tami said.

Referring to reports of criticism by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as well as Mr Hunt, the Alyn and Deeside MP said: "Can he explain why now, when it is done publicly, it is shouted down by cabinet ministers.

"This is a sector that's one of our proudest strengths," Mr Clark told MPs. "I do take seriously the representations that all businesses make".

When asked about Mr Bebb and Mr Hunt's comments by Cardiff South and Penarth MP Stephen Doughty, Mr Clark said: "I think it is entirely reasonable for any firm that employs people and pays taxes in this country to contribute their expertise and experience to the discussions that we're having."

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Meanwhile Aberconwy AM Janet Finch-Saunders, who represents the same constituency as Mr Bebb, issued an almost identical statement attacking Airbus for its warnings to that issued by Andrew RT Davies on Friday.

"Talking so casually about de-camping to China does those workers a disservice," said Ms Finch-Saunders, echoing Mr Davies who issued the same rebuttal on Friday.

Ms Finch-Saunders tweeted her support for the Welsh Tory assembly leader's stance on Monday.

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