A few weeks ago a survey volunteer came to my door from UKIP. Since I’d opened the door already, I answered his questions.
The majority of my answers were “this doesn’t affect my vote” because well, I’m not going to vote UKIP whether or not they want in or out of the EU.
However, it made me chuckle to myself that a bunch of the questions were about the opinions of higher ups such as Fabrice Bregier and Tom Enders – the CEO of Airbus, and the CEO of Airbus Group (formerly EADS who own Airbus and a bunch of other companies).
We reached the end of the survey where I was asked my profession. I answered a little smugly “I’m a programming intern at Airbus”
“Oh. You’re the first employee we’ve met!”
I still find this hard to believe, as I live so close to Airbus that I’m basically at my desk when I step out of my front door, but at the time didn’t think much on it.
However, recently QuestionTime came to Bristol and whilst I didn’t watch it, my parents did and informed me thus. Whilst talking to my my mum I pondered how much it would hurt Engineering in the UK if we left the EU, and of course, our entire industry and people generally.
Having been lucky enough to go to the continent virtually every year for a family holiday or other reason, I’ve taken for granted the fact we can hop on a flight, get passports checked at each end, and well, that’s about it.
During my time at Airbus I’ve made friends from across the country, but one of my closest friends is a girl from Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) who’s an aerospace engineering intern at work. Long story short, like the majority of technical people at work, one of her projects lead to Airbus sending her to Toulouse for a few days which is HQ, and in land area probably forms at least a quarter of Toulouse.
What happened? Well being a UAE national, she needed another VISA so one visit was cancelled, work sent her for a whole day in London and she had to be interviewed by the French Embassy. Trip probably cost a pittance in comparison to the numbers Airbus employees throw around in budgeting, but imagine if we had to do that for all the people at Airbus Bristol and all at Airbus Broughton. That’s uhm. 7200 employees according to the numbers listed on the portal. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg considering how trade laws would change and we wouldn’t be as friendly as the other 3 big player countries in Airbus (FYI, that is France, Germany and Spain).
In short, there would be far too much hassle in my opinion for us to keep the people here, and I think we’d at least lose the wing manufacturing plant in Broughton to France – at a guess employees would be offered the chance to relocate to wherever they moved the plant, but that’s around 4.8k peoples jobs and well, another thing the UK would not be making. And that makes me sad.
We take the EU for granted far too often, but ultimately if it were not there, Boeing would probably be the only big plane manufacturer and I wouldn’t have the sense of pride that we made all the wings on all the Airbus planes, and that sense of people being a traitor to Europe when they fly on a Boeing. :p
(no offence USA).