I often talk about the global race and the need to compete in a global race and, when you come here to the Dubai Airshow, you can see that this race is hot and this race is pretty fast.
But the key thing about this race is it’s not a zero‑sum game where one country has to win and another loses. It’s a race actually in which if we play to our strengths we can be a real winner, and one of our greatest strengths is aerospace. We have the second largest aerospace industry anywhere in the world. And I just want to make some simple points about why I think this matters so much and about my commitment to it.
First of all, this is an absolutely vital industry for Britain. It employs 230,000 people; the second largest in the world. Every day, aircraft are taking off with British wings, British landing gear, Rolls‑Royce engines – we can be incredibly proud of this industry. And that’s my second point: it’s an industry that we’re good at. We’ve been good at it for a very long time. In fact, there aren’t many countries that can make the claim that we can that it was actually an aeronautical piece of engineering that effectively saved our country – the spitfire.
And so we’ve been good at this for a very, very long time. I’ve just seen that again with the Red Arrow display team. I’ve seen it again with the Typhoon, a plane that I’m incredibly proud to stand up and promote around the world. And I see it again and again at Broughton, at Filton, with the incredible work that Airbus and EADS do.
My third point is this is an industry that has real government backing. Yes, of course, we back the apprenticeship programmes. Yes, of course, we back British science, and we want to see British science expand and succeed, but we also back this industry with real money and real partnerships. And that’s what the defence partnership is about. That’s what the aerospace partnership is about, and you saw it from the Chancellor in terms of a real commitment to the aerospace industry that he made in his recent budget.
The final point I want to make is this. If you’re going to back this industry in the way that I believe we need to, the real commitment is not just in pounds, shillings and pence, it’s also in government time and government effort. And that is why I’m very proud to be standing here at the Dubai Airshow today. I think it’s very important that we’re not half‑hearted in standing up for this industry, whether it is the civil aerospace industry or the defence aerospace industry. And I think that means recognising in this world today, not only that we are trying to sell, responsibly, British equipment, but we’re also entering into more and more detailed partnerships with countries as I hope that we will here in the United Arab Emirates, and I hope we will in other parts of the world as well.
Let me just finish by saying this. We, as a country, to succeed in the future, should play to our strengths. Succeeding in this global economy doesn’t mean trying to compete at the bottom end with low pay, low wages, low value‑added. It means competing at the top end with high‑paid, high‑skilled, high‑quality jobs. And that is what you see in the British aerospace industry: a massive amount of R&D, a huge amount of investment, very high skills, very good creation of intellectual property, and that’s why you’re so vital, not just in terms of your own future but in terms of our whole country’s future.
So, I’m very proud to stand here today at this display, with many more companies exhibiting here than there were 2 years ago, and to say the government is absolutely behind your industry, whether it is civil aerospace, whether it is defence aerospace or whether it is the many hundreds and thousands of SMEs involved in this vital industry.
So, best of luck with the week ahead. I’m looking forward to hearing about exciting deals, lots of jobs. You are at the front line in terms of competing in this global race and winning for Britain. So, on our behalf, please get out there and win. Thank you very much indeed.