McCluskey to MPs: Hold your nerve, don't be bounced into this bad Brexit deal
- Monday 19 November 2018
The leader of the country's largest manufacturing and private sector union, Unite, has today (Monday 19 November) called for MPs to 'hold their nerve' and vote down the prime minister's Brexit deal when it comes to the Commons because a better deal must be sought.
Writing in the Huffington Post, Len McCluskey says that the threat by prime minister Theresa May that the choice is between this deal or no deal is `preposterous and an insult to the country' and appeals only to her `ungovernable party'.
He calls for the prime minister to reject the demands of the hard-right rump of her party and disloyal cabinet to work instead with the Labour party to deliver a Brexit that would unite the country, protect workers' rights, genuinely deliver on frictionless trade and address the issues that led to people to vote to leave the European Union in the first place.
In the event that her deal does not get the backing of parliament, the Unite general secretary says that the prime minister will have lost all authority to govern and must resign.
McCluskey speaks out as Mrs May attempts to sell her deal by asserting, wrongly, that the deal offers the promise of certainty on trade on which hundreds of thousands of Unite members' jobs depend.
He writes: "Political posturing costs people’s jobs, including those of Unite members who I am determined to protect above all. But we must be clear- we can’t be bounced into a bad Brexit.
"A shambolic negotiation has resulted in a shambolic deal, which offers Britain no control over its laws, money or borders. At best it offers temporary commitments which mean nothing to those making long-term investment decisions.
"Businesses sent out to bat for this deal now should understand that this is little more than 21 months more of peering over the cliff-edge. It is not the certainty that you are being sold.
"There are no protections for workers’ rights, no barrier-free market access guarantees. It leaves Britain locked into arrangements we cannot exit from except with the other parties’ permission, a circumstance none of us would accept in any area of our lives."
Urging the prime minister to act as a “national leader and not as a party manager”, Len McCluskey continues: "If the prime minister would only stop listening to the hard-line rump on her own backbenches, she would realise that there is a different deal available. That it is perfectly possible to secure a natural majority in parliament for leaving the European Union, as the British people mandated in June 2016 but in a way that unites the nation.
"She needs to reach out to Jeremy Corbyn and forget about Jacob Rees-Mogg and her disloyal cabinet. She needs to actually listen to trade union concerns, rather than pretending to do so.
"Jeremy Corbyn extended the possibility of agreement in his party conference speech in September. Now is the time to take up the offer. In short, Mrs May needs to act as a national leader and not as a party manager."
He concludes that in the event that parliament does not back her deal, the prime minister must "recognise she has lost the authority to govern and resign. Parliament would do well to then endorse Labour’s honourable and sensible Brexit plan which, I believe, the EU would also accept, although I fear that the destructive factionalism of the Tory party will prevent this.
"With a new Tory leader/PM there would be a moral imperative to have a real people’s vote in a general election, when the British people could restore the credibility of government by electing Labour - the only party capable of delivering Brexit for both the 52 per cent and the 48 per cent."
For more information please contact Unite press office on 020 3371 2065 or Pauline Doyle on 07976 832 861
Notes to editors:
- Unite represents workers in Britain and Ireland with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.
- Labour must hold its nerve and vote down May's bad Brexit deal - Len McCluskey writs for the Huffington Post - 19 November 2018