One business leader is notably absent from today’s tour of South Africa: Colin Walton, chairman of Bombardier.
Only last week MP Heather Wheeler told Westminster Hall that Walton would be on the trade trip. By the end of the week, however, his name had disappeared from the draft list.
The RMT suggests that the government dropped Walton after the company’s criticism of the Thameslink decision – when the government’s award of a contract to Siemens prompted 1,400 jobs losses at Bombardier’s Derby factory. The union says it was a “disgraceful political punishment” to remove him from the tour.
In reality, the decision appears to be a more mutual one – albeit one that betrays the tensions between the two sides.
Bombardier’s official explanation is this: “We were informed on Friday by Number 10 that as the PM’s itinerary had been shortened, he would no longer be able to ride on our Gautrain project and therefore Coline Walton would not be required to join the trip.”