Commenting on the news that prime minister Boris Johnson is amending the Brexit bill to make it illegal to extend the transition period beyond the end of 2020, Unite the UK and Ireland’s largest union, has warned that this amounts to ‘playing chicken’ with workers’ jobs.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “The prime minister is playing a very dangerous game of chicken with the economy and with workers’ jobs.

“His drive to end negotiations and leave the EU by the end of 2020 may please his hard right agenda for certainty over our departure, but the ‘at any cost’ option of a no deal Brexit will be viewed by corporations and their suppliers, many with global investment and product placement options, as a very real threat to factor in.

"Protecting good jobs, skills and future opportunities in our manufacturing heartlands must be the priority for a post Brexit Britain and for that to happen it is essential that government rules out a no deal exit.

“As we have said consistently, we need a government that both understands and stands up for UK manufacturing, and this means that any eventual deal must include a customs arrangement and frictionless trade if we’re to prevent the largest UK Plc export being good jobs, devastating workers, their families and the communities that rely upon them.

“Now more than ever the UK needs the prime minister to act in the national interest and cast off the siren voices of the fanatics in his own party and Nigel Farage’s motley crew.

“Setting artificial deadlines is rarely helpful and will only raise the risk of rushing highly complex trade negotiations that will fail us all.


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.