Unite Rolls-Royce reps will meet with MPs to reiterate the potential danger crashing out of the EU poses to the aerospace industry.
They will lobby MPs to pressure the government into seeking a post-Brexit deal that prevents vital time sensitive supply chains from being disrupted by renewed border checks.
The day after their meeting in parliament on October 17, Unite’s national officer for aerospace Ian Waddell will speak in Brussels to lobby the European Commission to also seek to keep Britain within a customs union with the EU.
Rolls-Royce Derby convenor Simon Hemmings, who will be attending the meeting, said, “(The aerospace industry) has supply chains that provide parts back and forth across Europe.
“At Rolls-Royce alone we have tens of thousands of parts a year moving back between the UK and the continent and vice versa. We have a part that starts in Germany, goes to Sunderland, goes back to Germany, goes to Derby and then to France.
“The potential for disruption if border checks are imposed is huge and there’s no doubt if we’re not in a customs union jobs will be lost (as firms shift UK operations to EU countries),” believes Hemmings.
After the UK leaves the EU, the number of customs declarations could rise from 55m annually to 255m, the National Audit Office estimates.
Chancellor Philip Hammond has admitted that British ports will be overwhelmed if faced with even “minutes” of customs checks per lorry and HMRC has warned that a planned £800m post-Brexit customs system is up to seven years away.
Despite numerous warnings of the economic perils of crashing out of the EU with no deal, the Tories’ inept handling of the Article 50 negotiations has increased that likelihood.
The two year negotiations will end in March 2019, but for nearly nine months the Tories have been paralysed with infighting over ministers’ competing visions of Brexit.
The uncertainty the Conservatives are presiding over does not just risk border disruptions, Hemmings said.
He highlighted the problems that will be created for the aerospace sector if the UK leaves the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which oversees standards for aerospace technology.
“If we leave EASA we will need to recreate our own civil aviation authority and have it ready to go on day one (of Brexit). As part of EASA we have reciprocal agreements with all the other aerospace safety authorities across the world,” Hemmings explained.
“The UK’s new agency would need endorsement from EASA as well as separate agreements with other authorities worldwide. Every day we have situations where we contact EASA to say ‘we’ve mended this part this way, do you approve it safe to fly?’
“The timescales for a new UK agency to arrange all the international agreements necessary to give that approval are daunting.”
Hemmings also pointed out concerns that a hard Brexit could impede the industry if Britain’s relationship with EU workers, and the cross pollination of ideas and working methods that come with it, becomes overly restrictive.
He added, “At the moment we have engineers who fly out at the drop of a hat to fix aircraft. If you’ve got to go through visa systems and border controls to do that, it might mean firms moving these types of jobs out of the UK.”
It’s these issues that MPs must get to grips with, Hemmings added, because a mishandled Brexit “will seriously harm the aerospace industry and our members’ livelihoods”.