McCluskey warns of dangerous tidings for manufacturing
UNITE leader Len McCluskey warned yesterday that working-class communities face the “fight of their lifetimes” to defend jobs and living standards as the Tories seek to shape EU exit negotiations.
Mr McCluskey was addressing 200 Unite workplace representatives and shop stewards as the government launched its white paper setting out its priorities for Britain leaving the EU.
MPs voted by 498 to 114 in favour of the Article 50 Bill on Wednesday night, overwhelmingly clearing the way for the formal withdrawal process to begin.
Mr McCluskey also warned that trade deals drawn up in the “top floor of Trump Tower” can only spell harm for Britain’s working-class communities.
“There is no doubt that this government’s approach to Brexit risks jobs and risks investment in our economy,” he told Unite’s special conference in Liverpool on the impact of Brexit.
“In setting her face against single market access, Prime Minister Theresa May is not just refusing to listen to workers, she is deaf to the concerns of the manufacturing industry too.
“Those who claim no deal is better than a bad deal simply do not live in the real world. They certainly don’t live in the world of Unite’s members anxious to know that they will still have a job at the end of this process.
“I say again, people may have voted to be out of the EU, but they did not vote to be poorer or to be out of work.
We are now, then, in the fight of our lifetime to defend working-class communities from the ‘hard’ Brexit zealots.”
Launching the 77-page document in the Commons, Tory Brexit Secretary David Davis said the white paper confirmed the PM’s vision of “an independent and truly global United Kingdom.”
However, shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer dismissed the document as “a wish list, not an action plan.”
He said it “offers no certainty for EU citizens living in the UK, no additional detail on how workers’ and consumer rights will be protected and nothing on how full tariff-free access to the single market will be delivered.
“Labour has said throughout that there needs to be accountability and scrutiny throughout the Brexit process.”
Mr Starmer added that next week MPs will debate amendments to the Article 50 Bill including on workers’ rights and residency rights for EU nationals.
Another proposal is to give Parliament a vote on any final deal — though it is unclear if the EU would agree to Britain’s membership continuing until a deal is accepted by Parliament.