Let me count the ways that Willy Hutton does understand

Airbus’s warning that it would have to disinvest from Britain unless there was a deal in which Britain continued its membership of the EU’s air safety certification system, single market, customs union and respected the jurisdiction of the European court of justice.

Airbus’s customers need to know that every component in its planes conforms to the highest safety standards, which are set by the EU. Equally, it must strain for maximum production efficiency, fighting for every last order against Boeing; parts cannot be delayed for days, even hours, subject to time-consuming customs checks. As matters stood, warned its chief operating officer, Tom Williams, none of this could be assured: there was no clarity about Britain’s economic and trading regime after the transition period in 2020. His concerns are amply justified. Johnson’s reaction, and the parrot squawk that it is all part of Project Fear and safely to be ignored, is evidence enough. In the 21st century, it takes a continent to build a plane and the continent has to have shared trade rules, common regulatory standards and accepted adjudication processes.

Airbus actually said that absent the UK’s membership of the EU it might have to build in the US or China. Places also outside all those things.

Days earlier, Erik Nordkamp, chair of a trade association of 10 US pharmaceutical companies based in Britain, reported that 86% of life science executives responded, in a survey, that Brexit uncertainty was imperilling investment. Our traditional dominance in the life sciences, warned Nordkamp, was under threat. As in air safety, so it is in medicine. The EU’s European Medicines Agency, now moving from Britain to Holland, sets the continent’s drug standards. Again, it takes a continent to research, prototype, safety-test and launch a drug. Outside that trade and regulatory framework, and with a NHS too cash-strapped to order new drugs, another British economic flagship is set to sink.

Switzerland, a non-EU member, is also home to the occasional pharma company. I’m really quite sure of that as well.

The car industry will join its ranks. Revitalised by foreign direct investment, the UK car industry is part of a continental-wide system of production in which we disproportionately share the higher value work. BMW, maker of the Mini, warns of how a hard Brexit will force it into expensive, wasteful mitigating measures; Tata has already announced it is moving production of the Discovery Land Rover to Slovakia, while John Neill, CEO of Unipart, declares that Brexit is a fatal threat to the car industry. And our space industry, aiming to grow to £40bn by 2030, is about to be severely wounded by being excluded from the EU Galileo collaboration.

The North American car industry is continentally integrated as well. Without the EU. That is, systems – even legal systems, common standards an judicial processes – can be constructed without needing all the rest that the EU brings.

Which is why yesterday I joined the march for just that: when tens of thousands freely give up their time to make common cause over a great purpose, politicians should listen.

And when 52% of those voting in a referendum decide differently, what then? Ah, yes, just keep voting until they get the answer right. How EU of you.

19 comments on “Let me count the ways that Willy Hutton does understand

  1. Presumably there’s no way for an EU based company to ensure that its subsidiaries outside the EU adhere to the relevant regulations for manufacturing items that will end up in the EU. Which is odd, because the Japanese manage to supply cars made in Japan to the EU that meet the relevant standards, and Apple manage to supply people like Will Hutton with overpriced bits of consumer tat that are designed in the US and made in China yet still meet EU standards. James Dyson manages to sell vacuum cleaners in the EU despite making them in Malaysia. But Airbus wings can’t be made in the UK, because they have absolutely no way of stopping the UK factory making them out of balsa wood covered in bacofoil. Its all very odd.

  2. More project Fear cockrot .

    Even Seaman Staines points out that Airbus has form for helping Project Fear 1.0 out before. Which as EU illegally subsidised scum they would of course.

    Hutton put a nail thro his own ballbag long ago.

  3. “parts cannot be delayed for days, even hours, subject to time-consuming customs checks.”

    That is absolute bullshit. You get a strike at the tunnel or a strike of rail workers or an accident on the M4, they can be delayed for hours. Any business that runs on that level of criticality of time wouldn’t be in the UK because of the risks at Folkestone.

    I’m not sure what planet people like Hutton are on, but Just In Time isn’t about getting things fast. It’s about not holding stock, which takes up space and costs money. And I’m not doubting there’s an extra cost if we don’t have smooth customs.

    Airbus ain’t Nissan. They aren’t bringing in parts to make half a million things. They aren’t running a production line. It’s more like making F1 cars where there’s small amounts of stuff coming in but lots of labour applied. Just get the drivers to leave the plant a few hours earlier.

    Airbus are just a political project. Probably trying to ransom the UK government into providing more soft loans to keep the unemployment rate down in Wales.

  4. My company specifically excludes Chinese metals as it’s a bit hit and miss quality wise.
    No way would anyone in their right mind board an airbus with Chinese wings or engines.

  5. ‘… conforms to the highest safety standards, which are set by the EU.’

    Like the highest safety standards set by the EU for meat products to ensure that, for example, horse meat of unknown origin and of unlnown quality got passed off as beef meat for an unknown period, maybe years?

    Standards set by the EU are for the benefit of the producers who are the cronies and favourites of the French and German political set.

  6. Keep your steenkeeng Airbus and we’ll buy Boeing thankyou.

    Oh — changed your mind have you?

  7. Last time I was aware of the question, there were 3 manufacturers of (big) jet engines in the world. RR in UK, GE and Pratt & Witney both in the US. How does Airbus propose to get any of its aircraft into the sky without relying on imported engines?

  8. P&W + GE now jointly develop large turbofans for wide-bodied airliners. So that makes two …

  9. decnine / Chris Miller:
    Also Snecma – or has their big engine business gone into the GE joint venture?

  10. Airbus is now a French-owned company, so it is bound to push for “everything should be French” – I nearly spat when the FT labelled it as a British Company objecting to Brexit.
    Secondly, the highest safety standards are set by the UK and the EU is occasionally dragged up to them.
    The leading pharma research locations are US, then UK, then Switzerland, EU excluding UK went down the pan a generation ago because Germany gave a clean bill of health to Thalidomide.

  11. “Airbus’s customers need to know that every component in its planes conforms to the highest safety standards, which are set by the EU. “

    Highly misleading. Unlike Will Hutton, I’ve worked in this area.

    Airlines in Europe operate under regulation by the Joint Aviation Requirements. These were administered in the 1990s by the Joint Aviation Authorities, but date back to the 1970s.

    They are now administrated by the European Aviation Safety Agency, which has several non-EU members.

    There is no practical obstacle to the UK continuing to be a member of the EASA. There might be political and idological obstacles, but these fall into the category of “Things that are only a problem if someone wants them to be a problem”. If it’s handled in good faith, there need be no operational change.

    If we have to leave the EASA, then the British CAA could be a perfectly competent regulator, and the EU could recognise its technical standards in the same way that they recognise those of the US FAA.

  12. Which is why yesterday I joined the march for just that: when tens of thousands freely give up their time to make common cause over a great purpose, politicians should listen

    Lol. These people march at the drop of a hat. It’s what they do. The idea that these are non-political people who marched in desperation is laughable.

  13. “Which is why yesterday I joined the march for just that: when tens of thousands freely give up their time to make common cause over a great purpose, politicians should listen”

    Like they did over the countryside march. Oh wait……..

  14. @dcardno
    Snecma (now Safran) are part of the GE alliance (for big engines, at least). So for anything larger than an A320, the engine choice is RR or GE++. Such choices are generally made by the customer (the airline), although for certain models there may be only one option available.

  15. This ‘warning’ strikes me as part of a co-ordinated campaign by Roland (brother of Amber) Rudd et al. ‘News’ items every day leading into their weekend March, recycling old announcements and getting the crony capitalist mates to make helpful announcements. Alastair Campbell on ‘Any questions’ the night before talking about why we need to ‘march for our children’s future (over the specious Northern Ireland border problem for goodness sake), Oor Willy doing the same call to arms.
    Boris’ quote f++Ck business highlights the point that the anti Brexit campaign has powerful crony capitalist interests behind it – the same that fund much of the media (the Times has become especially bad recently). Would be nice if someone called out the vested interests here.

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