Devolved leaders demand 'urgent intervention' from Westminster to save aerospace sector

19 September 2020, 00:05 | Updated: 19 September 2020, 00:11

Political leaders are calling on the UK Government to support the aerospace sector
Political leaders are calling on the UK Government to support the aerospace sector. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Nicola Sturgeon has joined forces with the First Ministers of Wales and Northern Ireland to demand "urgent intervention" from the UK Government to help the struggling aerospace sector.

The Scottish First Minister, her Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford as well as Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill from Northern Ireland have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging him to step in.

The letter asks him to set up a specialist task force to help the industry - which has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic - or risk significant damages to the UK economy.

It comes as the leaders of the Unite trade union claimed tens of thousands of jobs in the sector and associated industries are on the "brink of being lost forever".

Read more: Pressure on Boris Johnson to hold emergency meeting as Covid fears deepen

But the creation of an aerospace task force "would be a positive signal to the sector", the four political leaders told Mr Johnson.

The letter stated that such a move would show "all our governments remain committed to working together in order to preserve this sector that is hugely important to the whole of the UK."

They stressed the need to act quickly, telling the Prime Minister: "Urgent intervention is now required to preserve capability and avert further damaging losses."

What happens when the furlough scheme ends?

The task force First Ministers are proposing would include "active participation" from the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as unions and companies working in the sector.

The letter comes after major job losses at companies such as Rolls Royce, which announced 9,000 redundancies in May to strengthen its finances after losses due to Covid-19.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "As we approach the closure of the furlough scheme at the end of October, there is a real possibility of significant job losses across the UK.

"We have repeatedly called for the UK Government to reconsider its position and to extend the scheme, especially for sectors that have been particularly hard-hit like aerospace.

Read more: 1,700 jobs lost as Airbus announces cuts to UK workforce

Read more: Up to 124,000 aviation jobs could be lost without Government help, new report warns

"Recognising where key economic powers lie, we need to see sector-specific approaches for these parts of the economy from the UK Government or the long-term impact will be severe."

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government has set up an aerospace response group to help the industry "address the significant challenges the sector is facing as a result of Covid-19".

She added: "We would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with other governments as part of a UK-wide aerospace task force and I call in the UK Government to recognise the scale of the problem and to establish this without further delay."

Rolls-Royce announced 9,000 job losses in May due to Covid-19
Rolls-Royce announced 9,000 job losses in May due to Covid-19. Picture: PA Images

Pat Rafferty, Scottish secretary of Unite, said: "Tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs and those supported by the aerospace sector in the supply-chain are on the brink of being lost forever.

"It's clear that many of the measures required to support the sector reside with the UK Government, which is why we are collectively asking the Prime Minister to immediately establish a UK aerospace task force to coordinate support."

Read more: Unemployment rises with more than 695,000 jobs lost since March

He added: "In Scotland, we have an unfolding crisis in the sector following a spate of redundancies which risks a £185 million blow to the economy.

"We hope the Prime Minister responds positively to this initiative and that every possible tool will be used alongside measures being enacted by the devolved administrations in order to preserve jobs, and to sustain the aerospace sector throughout and beyond the Covid-19 crisis."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

SantaCon NYC

Thousands of revellers descend on NYC for annual Santa-themed bar crawl SantaCon

A heart-broken family has cremated the wrong body after a mix-up by the Grange University Hospital in South Wales

Wrong body cremated after shocking South Wales hospital mix-up, as board apologises to the family

Russia Ukraine War

Soviet-era statue of Red Army commander taken down in Kyiv

Stephen Fry has said he feels "self conscious" going out without his walking stick which he has been using since his recovery from a fall in September. Credit: Alamy

Stephen Fry admits feeling 'self-conscious' using cane after recovering from agonising fall off O2 stage

Undated handout photo issued by Metropolitan Police of Lianne Gordon. A 16-year-old boy has been charged with the murder of Lianne, who was shot dead in Hackney, east London, the Metropolitan Police said. Issue date: Friday December 8, 2023.

Boy, 16, charged with murder of Lianne Gordon and two counts of attempted murder in Hackney shooting

Cop28 protests

Opec ‘panicking’ as Cop28 talks focus on possible fossil fuel phase-out

A bizarre fight broke out after a man tore down a Palestinian flag

Man rips down Palestinian flag in London before driver intervenes to stop him and ladder fight breaks out on street

Recep Tayyip Edrogan

Erdogan accuses West of ‘barbarism’ and Islamophobia over war in Gaza

Brits are facing Storms Elin and Fergus

Britain faces two storms as Elin and Fergus bring 70mph gusts and flooding with fresh yellow weather alerts issued

The Queen supported the idea of Harry keeping security after Megxit

Queen wanted Harry to keep security despite prince's claim he was 'forced' to leave UK after it was downgraded

Gatwick Airport has been hit by an ATC fault

Passengers delayed for hours after Gatwick Airport hit by air traffic control fault

Fire at hospital

Deadly fire breaks out at hospital near Rome

Brits are facing Storm Elin

Storm Elin: Brits face 55mph gusts and flooding as fresh yellow weather alerts issued for UK in bleak weekend

Met Police are investigating the violent robbery

Horrific CCTV shows two women unleash 'shocking and terrifying' assault on 20-year-old and rob her bag in North London

A mammoth £201m prize has been won in the EuroMillions

Lucky ticket holder scoops £201m in EuroMillions draw - was it you? Full draw details revealed

Gaza air strike

Israel presses on with Gaza bombardments as war enters third month