Labour, LibDems and UKIP put thousands of UK jobs at risk

Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP MEPs have threatened thousands of British jobs at Airbus and elsewhere by voting to continue forcing non-European airlines to pay an emissions levy whenever they fly to or from the EU, Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP, has warned.

The European Parliament’s environment committee was voting on plans to continue exempting non-European airlines from its Emissions Trading Scheme (named the ‘Stop the Clock proposal). However, an alliance of Labour and Liberal Democrat MEPs was able to reject the plan, and voted in favour of charging US, Indian and Chinese airlines a levy for every flight.

These main trading partners have all threatened retaliatory measures, with the US Congress already passing a resolution condemning the scheme. However, the Chinese government is likely to respond most harshly to the levy. It had been planning to unfreeze an order of 27 Airbus A330 aircraft that was put on hold due to the prospect of the charges, and it had originally been planning to confirm an order for a further 150 Airbus jets at the end of this month (see notes to editors).

In an extremely tight vote, with 29 MEPs voting in favour of the proposal and 29 against – meaning it fell. Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies defied a call from Nick Clegg  and even brought along two other LibDem MEPs not on the committee – Bill Newton Dunn and Andrew Duff – to swing the vote. Labour MEP Linda McAvan also voted to reject the plans and apply the levy to the airlines. UKIP MEP on the committee Paul Nuttall did not show up, even though he would have been able to swing the vote in favour of British business.

Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP for South East England, said:

“Airbus is responsible for 100,000 UK jobs, many of which have been put at risk by Labour, the LibDems and by UKIP. Liberal Democrat MEPs even turned out in force to defy a call from Nick Clegg to support this proposal.

“Europe’s major trading allies will react extremely badly to this vote. We are risking a trade war with China that will cost British jobs, just for the sake of a couple of Euros per flight.

“Labour and Liberal Democrats have behaved extremely irresponsibly with this vote. As ever, UKIP MEPs didn’t bother to show up and defend British industry. Paul Nuttall often talks about green dogma destroying British jobs and today he had the opportunity to stop this measure, and couldn’t turn up or bother to find a replacement.

Until we can find an international agreement on airline emissions we should not be risking retaliation from major economic partners for the sake of ideology. Labour and the LibDems have actively put British jobs at risk and UKIP has not bothered to show up and defend them.”