AEROSPACE firm Airbus has become the latest business to warn it would reconsider investing in the UK were Britain to leave the European Union.
Paul Kahn, president of the plane maker’s UK operation, said he thought it was “vital” firms took a view on a possible “Brexit” following a promised in-out referendum on EU membership.
David Cameron has pledged to hold a poll on the issue by the end of 2017 and the debate has already begun, with campaign groups beginning to set out their stalls.
CBI president Sir Mike Rake said yesterday there was no “credible alternative” to the union and urged other businesses to speak out, while senior figures at building equipment firm JCB suggested the UK would not suffer any adverse effects from leaving the EU.
Mr Kahn told the BBC: “I believe that it is vital for a company such as Airbus to come out and make a stand in favour of Britain remaining in the European Union.
“If after an exit from the European Union, economic conditions in Britain were less favourable for business than in other parts of Europe, or beyond, would Airbus reconsider future investment in the United Kingdom? Yes, absolutely.”
But he said he backed the Prime Minister’s pledge to reform the union.
“I welcome the UK government’s intentions to deliver positive and hoped-for reforms - which would create a leaner and more efficient EU,” he said.
Airbus employs nearly 17,000 people in the UK, including 4,000 in Filton, near Bristol, and 6,000 at its wing-manufacturing plant in Broughton, north Wales.
British Influence, a cross-party pro-EU campaign group whose members include Conservative MP Ken Clarke and Labour peer Lord Mandelson, is to create a single “Yes to Europe” group along with Business for New Europe and the European Movement.
Peter Wilding, director of British Influence, told the Independent: “A new organisation will be launched with the support and input of various pro-European organisations. Between us we have developed a diverse network of supporters ranging from businesses to environmental charities as well as thousands of pro-Europeans.”
Meanwhile, Nigel Farage insisted Ukip would be going into Britain’s EU referendum campaign “100% united”.