McCluskey: Johnson Brexit deal risks jobs and workers rights

Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans have been dealt another blow after the speaker of the house, John Bercow, ruled out MPs voting on the government’s deal today (October 21) after a majority used a backbench amendment to reject it on Saturday.

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Speaking in the House of Commons, Bercow said a second vote on the deal within 48 hours of it being rejected would be “repetitive and disorderly”.

Unite backed the decision by MPs to vote down the deal, on the grounds that it risks UK employment and environmental standards and fails to secure a customs union, which is vital for UK manufacturing and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The deal proposes that protections for workers’ rights and environmental standards are removed from the legally binding withdrawal agreement and placed instead into the political declaration, meaning they can be bargained away in future trading arrangements.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said, “With this deal, Boris Johnson has made it abundantly clear that the people he wants to please are the hard right wing of the Conservative party.

“Not only will we lose the crucial customs union arrangements supporting our manufacturing industry and hundreds of thousands of jobs in this country but by further diluting the legal protections for labour and environmental standards, the prime minister has made the laws that underpin workers’ rights and public safety extremely vulnerable in future trade deals.

“Donald Trump will be licking his lips at the prospect of him calling the shots in any potential trade arrangement with the US knowing that Boris Johnson has made it very easy for him to demand that our jobs, food standards and probably our NHS are all put on the negotiating able.”

After MPs tabled the amendment rejecting the deal, Johnson was forced to send a letter to the EU asking for the Brexit deadline of October 31 to be extended in order to comply with emergency legislation passed by parliament to prevent a disastrous no deal Brexit.

Despite sending the legally required letter, Johnson did not sign it and sent two other letters accompanying it.

The second letter was from Britain’s EU ambassador Tim Barrow explaining the first letter, while the third was from Johnson explaining that the he does not want the EU to extend the deadline.

McCluskey said, “As ever with Boris Johnson, the issue is can we trust him to act in the national interest?”

“This is a question of the country we want to be. Do we want to have decent jobs and proper protections, as Labour envisages, or the nightmare for workers where their rights and jobs are bargained away by a Johnson government.

“The only way forward remains a general election with the return of a Labour government that will negotiate a deal with the EU which is fully committed to defending workers’ jobs and our fundamental rights.”