McCluskey: Govt’s Brexit confusion threatens hundreds of thousands of jobs

Unite leader Len McCluskey warned that employers and workers would be left ‘reeling’ by today’s evidence given by the Brexit minister David Davis MP to the select committee on Exiting the European Union.

Davis told the committee that crashing out of the EU negotiations and onto World Trade Organisation rules would mean huge tariffs on imports and exports such as cars, food and clothes.

He also admitted that the government had not carried out any economic assessments of the consequences of leaving the EU without a deal, despite Theresa May’s insistence that “no deal is better than a bad deal”.

Commenting, McCluskey said: “Daily, we are hearing warnings that investment is in a ‘holding’ position and that industry is concerned about its prospects in a country with an unclear future relationship with the European Union.

“So it is extremely worrying that the Brexit minister David Davis is vague about the impact that no deal with the EU will have on the economy. His comments will have only added to the rising sense of uncertainty. His confirmation that no deal would see hefty tariffs on everything from food basics to manufactured products will have sent employers and workers reeling.

“On the day when the construction industry is ringing alarm bells about the persistent insecurity of the UK trading environment, amid warnings from carmakers and manufacturing, it is no exaggeration to say that hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk. Not at this moment from Brexit itself, but before the government even gets to the negotiating table.

“For the jobs and prosperity of the people of this country, the government must make it clear that its priority is to secure maximum access to present day customs and market access arrangements, and that far from treating migrant workers as bargaining chips, their worth to our economy is understood and will be safeguarded. We urge them to make it abundantly clear: there will be no ‘hard’ Brexit.”

Unite is campaigning for access to the single market and the retention of a barrier-free customs union.