Leading manufacturers stress the importance of swift action by ministers

Two of the biggest names in British manufacturing have said that the Government shouldn’t delay in pressing ahead with trade negotiations following the vote last month for the UK to leave the EU.

Airbus and Rolls-Royce have issued a warning to ministers that delays in securing new arrangements could put investment in the UK at risk.

This week Rolls-Royce, the iconic brand which employs more than 20,000 people in the UK, said that it had already held crunch talks with MPs about the areas which it believed needed to be addressed as a matter of priority following the Brexit vote.

Airbus, the company which manufactures the A350, the world’s biggest passenger aircraft, had been among the firms who had warned of the serious consequences of a “leave” vote in the run-up to the recent referendum.

At the Farnborough Airshow this week, bosses allayed fears that the company would consider pulling the plug on its UK operations in the short-term but stressed the importance of hammering out the most straightforward trade deals possible with Britain’s continental neighbours.

Tom Williams, a senior figure in the Airbus commercial aircraft unit, said: “We haven’t pulled back on investment in the months running up to Brexit. We have no major decisions on the horizon, which gives us two-three years for the whole thing to settle down. But then there will be big decisions.

“We need a situation that is no less favourable than now. When I build a set of wings in Broughton and send them to Toulouse, I don’t need a thousand pages of documents and tariffs. That’s not just for me, but all UK industries.

“With Brexit, nothing has changed in the short term, but of course future investment does come under review. But we could see a situation where we are in a positive scenario.”

It was confirmed yesterday that the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, was creating a whole-new government department to handle the business of negotiating Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. Veteran MP David Davis was named the Secretary of State for Brexit.

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