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A senior Tory has warned that controversial plans to merge defence giant BAE with a European rival would lead to the loss of a ‘massively important British asset’ and threaten jobs.
David Davis’s intervention comes amid mounting criticism of the merger with EADS, which would create the largest arms firm in the world.
Mr Davis, whose constituency is near BAE Systems’s Brough plant in Yorkshire, said: ‘With strong French and German government interest in EADS, there is a risk the British factories will come to be seen as peripheral to the core business of the merged company, with all the threats to employment that that involves.
‘[The deal] raises serious concerns both in terms of competition and strategic national interest. Suggestions this could be resolved before the end of the year strike me as wildly optimistic.
‘Even if EADS was willing to give undertakings as to preserving these jobs, we know from past experience of such mergers these never last in the long run.’ The Government has a‘golden share’ in BAE, which it can use to block the merger on a temporary basis.
Defence giant: BAE employs 35,000 workers across the UK
After the meeting, Mr Wallace said he was concerned there were no guarantees jobs would be protected in Britain.
The merger has raised fears the new company, which will be 60 per cent owned by existing EADS shareholders, would shift jobs overseas.
Well-placed sources say three of BAE’s top five shareholders, including its largest investor Invesco with 13 per cent of the company, were not in favour of the merger. That would be sufficient to block the deal, regardless of political intervention.
The powerful company builds everything from fighter jets to nuclear submarines
BAE is building the new generation of Trident nuclear missiles and the Astute class nuclear-powered submarine and says key projects would be ‘ringfenced’.
The company has a strong presence in the US, where the company is a key supplier to the big-budget F-35 stealth fighter jet programme.
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