Accountancy giant predicts glowing Brexit future under “flexible economy”

Accountancy firm PwC yesterday (February 7) published the most glowing predictions for a UK economy post-Brexit to date, noting that in the years following 2020, any short-term economic pain from leaving the EU may well have passed.

The firm said that by 2050, the UK could be the fastest growing economy in the list of wealthy G7 countries which includes the USA, Canada, France, Germany and others.

The firm said its predictions were based on the fact that the UK had a “flexible economy” – which critics say is a euphemism for an economy whose labour market is dominated by jobs in which workers have little job security.

Recent TUC research has shown that one in ten workers are now in insecure jobs – increasing from 2.6m in 2011 to more than 3m today – with many worrying that Brexit could open the door not just to further casualisation in workplaces but also to attacks on employment rights.

Despite prime minister Theresa May’s assurances on workers’ rights derived from the EU, emphasising that all rights would be transposed into UK law post-Brexit, concerns have been raised that such assurances aren’t without potential loopholes, which could threaten to increase job insecurity in the UK.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke explained.

“The government may grandfather all EU workers’ rights across in the Great Repeal Bill but then they can add on what are called ‘sunset clauses’ which means over a certain amount of time these rights can be taken away without having to have a debate in Parliament through statutory instruments,” he said.

“There are enough hard-Brexiteers in the Tory party – like Priti Patel who said she wanted to see 50 per cent of workers’ rights from the EU stripped away – that makes this scenario entirely possible,” he added.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner argued that a Brexit that works for everyone must not mean a race to the bottom on workers’ rights.

“The job insecurity that we’ve seen grow under the coalition government threatens to be turbocharged post-Brexit if we aren’t careful,” he said.

“Strengthening UK workers’ rights – with a renewed emphasis on unionised jobs and on sector-level collective bargaining – is a much better, more sustainable way of growing the economy long-term than slashing and burning wages and employment protections.

“Unionised workers have stronger job security and higher wages, which helps power the economy with their consumer spending power,” Turner added.

“Let’s make the UK the envy of the world in the way it treats its workers – the government can make good on this goal by taking immediate steps such as, for example, beefing up enforcement to crack down on bad bosses, supporting trade unions instead of seeing us as the enemy within, and outlawing zero-hours contracts the way New Zealand did last year.”