So the intervention of Boeing’s European rival, Airbus, appears to be a work of genius. Airbus has negotiated a majority 50.1% stake in Bombardier’s C-series jet programme without having to pay anything for it. In doing so, the 300% import duty can be neatly sidestepped because the final stage of the construction of jets destined for the US market will take place in Alabama, rather than Belfast. In doing so, Airbus will not be importing completed planes but parts, bringing sorely needed jobs to a Republican state – a move that is unlikely to annoy US politicians.
If Airbus’s legal advice is firm, and the deal passes muster with the US government, it will have snatched the much-delayed C-Series from the abyss and hopefully secured a thousand jobs.
But while the US and Boeing are clearly the Goliaths in this parable, May cannot cast herself as the bold and canny David. For all the Conservatives’ insistence that Britain and Northern Ireland will be “open for business”, it was clear that the prime minister had no clout with Trump and Congress – yielding not a deal but only stern and plaintive public pronouncements on the import tax being a travesty.
Instead, Airbus has succeeded in outsmarting the larger Boeing. So as we near the Brexit deadline, a pan-European project has come to the rescue of UK jobs.
Well, the planes never would have been assembled in Belfast. But still, look at what the claim is. Brexit means we’ve no power over trade, we’re all doomed.
And then what happens is that despite Brexit cooperation across Europe continues, business not being as dependent upon politics as is generally thought. Woe is us eh?