Unite: PM must change tack to avoid disastrous CETA based Brexit deal

Unite has called on Theresa May to change tack and ensure single market access after the EU’s chief negotiator said her current course means the UK will end up with a deal based on the bloc’s damaging CETA agreement with Canada.

Michel Barnier told the European press that Britain’s trade deal will be little better than the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) signed with Canada because of the Prime Minister’s plans to leave the single market and customs union.

Barnier said: “From the moment the UK told us that it wants out of the single market and the customs union, we will have to work on a model that is closer to the agreement signed with Canada.”

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said a CETA based agreement would be a “disaster” for the UK.

He said: “CETA is less about trade and more about enhancing the power of the corporate sector at the expense of workers and their communities.

“ISDS clauses, which are included in all such deals and give companies the right to sue countries passing social legislation that could affect their businesses or profits, mean the government could be forced to open the NHS up to private companies on the grounds of competition as well as making any privatisation of vital public services irreversible.

“A trade deal with the EU based on these terms would be a disaster for the UK but it can be avoided. The government’s main priority must be to ensure we have access to the single market and a customs union. Anything less is simply unacceptable.”

The United Steelworkers (USW) union warned against the dangers of a CETA based deal being struck in the UK.

USW national director for Canada Ken Neumann said: “In Canada we have 30 years of experience with so called trade agreements like the CETA – and we have lost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs.

“Agreements like CETA provide all the rights and power to investors and corporations at the expense of governments and public services.

“This means that investment and jobs go to the lowest cost jurisdiction, and domestic governments are powerless to develop a meaningful domestic manufacturing strategy.”