Airbus CEO steps up warning on danger of hard Brexit

Airbus CEO steps up warning on danger of hard Brexit
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LONDON (Reuters) - The head of Airbus <AIR.PA> on Friday criticised divisions within the British government over its exit from the European Union and reiterated concerns over the threat to thousands of aerospace jobs in Britain.

Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders told the European aerospace group's annual media briefing that the British government has "no clue or at least (no) consensus on how to execute Brexit without severe harm".

Companies have become increasingly vocal about the risks of Brexit, hoping to have an impact on the outcome of crunch talks between British Prime Minister Theresa May and her senior ministers on Friday.

The PM hopes to settle differences in her fractious cabinet about Brexit at the meeting at her country residence Chequers, enabling her to unblock stalled talks with the European Union.

The planemaker, which makes wings for all its passenger jets in Britain, last month issued its strongest warning yet over Brexit, saying that withdrawal without a deal would force it to reconsider its long-term position and put thousands of British jobs at risk.

Britain's biggest carmaker Jaguar Land Rover joined in on Wednesday, saying that a chaotic Brexit would cost it 1.2 billion pounds a year, curtailing operations in the United Kingdom. The retail industry said a "no deal" might see "food rotting at ports".

Enders defended Airbus's decision to issue warnings over the potential impact of Brexit after the move was criticised by at least one UK cabinet minister, who accused companies of issuing "completely inappropriate" threats.

"We will of course speak up. We did do this because this is what we owed our shareholders. We have been very clear about what the consequences particularly of a hard Brexit would be," German-born Enders said.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher, additional reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Dominique Vidalon/Keith Weir)

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