The general secretary of the country’s leading union has warned that Boris Johnson is trying to rush through a dodgy banger of a Brexit deal that will ruin UK manufacturing, as the prime minister is set to break his sworn ‘do or die’ promise that the UK will leave the EU on 31 October.

Posing the question `what have you got to hide, prime minister?’, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey today (Saturday) addressed Unite Scotland’s policy conference held in Ayr.

He said that Boris Johnson will use the UK’s exit from the EU to push through policies that will reverse advances in workers’ rights and a deal that destroys the vital customs arrangements supporting manufacturing jobs, as he seeks to curry favour with the far right of his party.

Len McCluskey told delegates from across Scotland’s workforce: “The Tories never miss a chance to exploit a crisis. They see this (Brexit) as their opportunity to reshape our nation as the North Sea’s low tax, no rights sweat shop – and they will grab it with both hands.

“That is why Mr Johnson does not want us peering too closely at his Withdrawal Agreement bill. Like a dodgy used car salesman, Johnson didn’t want us checking over the goods. He ignored calls for clarity on the economic impact of his deal. He tried to bounce his deal through parliament in 72 hours.

“The arrangement to end a 40-plus year relationship with our biggest trading partner is being given less consideration than the act of parliament that set out the regulations for handling salmon.

“And neither Holyrood nor the Welsh assembly will be granted the time to assess proposals which will impact on the prosperity of their communities and the reach of their devolved powers.

“What are you trying to hide, prime minister?’

“Well, Mr Johnson, we’ve looked under the bonnet of your dodgy deal and saw that not only is the spare tyre flat but half the engine has gone. The trading arrangements underpinning the jobs of our members will be scrapped. The customs provisions we need to support just in time trade from aerospace to food manufacturing have been ripped out.

“The truth is Boris Johnson is prepared to risk hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs – the jobs of our communities – to appease a handful of rabid right-wingers.

“Johnson has dug his ditch but it will be our members’ jobs that die in it. I tell you now, Unite will never allow this.”

Turning to the Brexit stance of the official opposition at Westminster, Len McCluskey appealed to Scottish voters to `come home to Labour’ saying: “Only Labour is attempting to bring the country together – not irresponsibly doubling-down on division. Only Labour is saying that it will negotiate a deal that will protect jobs, rights and environmental standards – one that won’t use our NHS as bait for Donald Trump and the salivating US private health industry.

“Only Labour will avert a disastrous no deal crash out. Labour is the grown up in the room, the only party seeking to heal our nation.

“My call to Scottish workers is to come home to Labour, lessons have been learned.

“And in these times of immense challenge, I also urge Nicola Sturgeon and her SNP to now stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the working people of Scotland and across these isles.

“Work with Labour to see off Johnson, block a disastrous no deal Brexit and, with this done, get these Tories out of office so that they can do no more harm.”

Closing, Len McCluskey turned to the prospect of a general election saying: “A UK general election is coming – and when it does, it will be the fight of our lives.

“We will need to display every ounce of our courage and fight in the weeks and months to come.

“We are up against the most right wing government we have ever seen, with coffers packed to the rafters, awash with dodgy hedge fund cash and the majority of the media in their corner urging them on with jingoistic zeal.

“But never forget – our movement is the authentic voice for millions of people, for the communities of these lands. We are still the greatest force for social change that this country has witnessed. And we are ready for the fight.”


Notes to editors:

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