Government proposals for a transition period after Brexit in which it would continue its current customs arrangements are a significant departure from ministers’ pledges that Britain would leave the customs union entirely after May 2019, Unite has said.
But in welcoming the government’s apparent awaking to the very real risks customs tariffs and delays pose to UK jobs, particularly in manufacturing, the union warns that the proposals contained in the position paper on future customs arrangements raise more questions than they answer.
Tony Burke, Unite assistant general secretary (manufacturing), said in an article for Brexit Check:
“Will the proposed new arrangements bring costs to business, and if so how does the government plan to ensure that these are not paid for by workers with their jobs and wages?
“Will European Court of Justice jurisdiction, which covers the customs union, remain over the UK during the transition? If not, who will provide arbitration for these trade deals?
“Does barrier-free trade really mean removing vital regulations and protections for our members, including safety regulations?
“Will Conservative party priorities come before ensuring that we have a customs agreement which provides the same frictionless trade arrangements our industries currently enjoy?
“And how, by trying to solve their party political issues, will the government avoid creating another headache in the shape of an immediate hard Irish border, with the inevitable impact on the livelihoods of our members on both sides?
“It is very hard not to get the impression that the objective of this government in chaos is to give the appearance of progress when in fact it’s unclear whether its stance will support or actually threaten UK jobs.”
Read Tony Burke’s article in full here