Jeremy Hunt faced a torrent of criticism after it emerged he will be at a Boeing-sponsored “drink tank” while more than 4,000 UK jobs at rival firm Bombardier “hang by a thread”.
Theresa May has hinted that the UK Government could boycott Boeing after a trade dispute over aggressive tariffs broke out - a dispute which could ultimately see 4,500 workers at Bombardier’s Belfast factory made jobless.
But the potential disaster seemed to be no bar to Health Secretary attending an event held “in partnership with Boeing”, and organised by the Bright Blue think tank, at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Sunday evening.
Unite the union and Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Smith said the move was inappropriate while Belfast workers faced an uncertain future.
A Unite source said: “I am not sure that the company this cabinet minister is keeping is the best look while 4000 Bombardier jobs hang by a thread.
“Boeing sponsorship of a late night booze-up will not go down well in Belfast.”
Meanwhile, Smith retweeted criticism.
May’s appeal for help from US President Donald Trump in the Boeing-Bombardier row last month appeared to fall on deaf ears.
The US Department of Commerce backed Boeing in an action that could lead to 219% tariffs being placed on planes made by Bombardier - making the planes much more expensive in the key US market.
The Prime Minister has said she was “bitterly disappointed” by the US’ decision amid concerns about creeping protectionism in international trade.