Ahead of the prime minister Theresa May’s speech where she will outline her priorities for negotiating the UK’s exit from the European Union, Len McCluskey, general secretary of the biggest union in the UK and Ireland, said: “The prime minister’s announcement today looks set to send shock waves around factories and shop-floors across the country. Her determination to appease the hard right in her party and Ukip by talking tough on immigration is putting millions of jobs in jeopardy.
“Mrs May must not put party before country today. Trade unions and others have clearly outlined how real concerns over the freedom of movement can be addressed by sensible labour market safeguards without abandoning the single market when we leave the EU.
“Out of the single market, possibly out of the customs union, then investment in core sectors like car manufacturing, chemicals, aerospace, even food manufacturing, will be threatened as companies face hefty on-costs and serious disruption to their supply chains.
“I urge Mrs May to listen to the anguish of working class communities, not to add to it. Trading with nations that will not uphold our labour standards is not an acceptable solution – that trade will come with a heavy price tag, certain to be paid in the jobs, rights and wages of working people.
“The prime minister must pay less heed to the Brexit headbangers around the cabinet table and more to the anxiety felt by working people who believe their jobs are being held hostage by the extreme nationalist wing of her government.”