Viewpoint

Gobble, gobble, vote out…Christmas

The most incongruous aspect of the Brexit referendum was how many areas voted against their own interests.

Deprived parts of the country that have been showered with EU cash voted out and then promptly petitioned government – long known for a poor investment record outside London – to guarantee the funds they stand to lose.

This also occurred in the private sector. Airbus –the industrial embodiment of European co-operation – employs 6,000 people at its wing factory in Flintshire, North Wales.

That amounts to one in every six people there, but on a huge turnout Flintshire voted 56% to leave. A similar story occurred in the poor north-eastern city of Sunderland, where Franco-Japanese venture Renault-Nissan has a car plant employing 7,000.

Speaking to the Financial Times, a Nissan worker who voted for Brexit said: “Hopefully our government, when they eventually get themselves sorted out, will put money into Nissan. If the government say don’t leave, we will make an offer you can’t refuse — hopefully that’s what’s going to happen.”

Perhaps some workers at Airbus think the same, or perhaps they’re just confident that the expertise built up at their Broughton site is too valuable for Airbus to transfer to the continent.

Another factor in their favour is the plummeting value of the pound, which may soon mean that Airbus’ and Rolls-Royce’s UK workers are giving the Chinese a run for their money.

Incidentally, Derby – where Rolls in headquartered – also voted out.

For airlines it’s a more mixed picture. Shares in IAG and Easyjet took a hammering after the referendum on fears of a potential recession in the UK, while a weak pound will increase both carriers’ aircraft costs.

There are also some jitters about how the UK will extricate itself from Europe’s regulatory regime, though, as far as aviation in concerned, it seems unlikely that the country will pull out of projects like single sky.

Speaking to media yesterday, bosses of both the above carriers said Brexit was unlikely impact them much operationally, and certainly not as much as ongoing ATC strikes in France.

However, several analysts have predicted that Easyjet may be forced to establish a new European-headquartered arm, while IAG may shift its focus from British Airways to the development of Iberia and Vueling’s Spanish hubs.

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