Unite savaged the Tories for bungling the Brexit negotiations yesterday (October 9), after the Prime Minister admitted the government is planning for a damaging “no deal” exit.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also blasted May for making no real progress despite eight months of talks, after she warned MPs the country must be prepared for crashing out of the EU.
Although insisting the deadlocked negotiations with the EU were making headway in her statement to House of Commons, for the first time May set out “steps to minimise disruption” when Britain exits the EU in 2019.
May’s statement came as a report from law firm Baker & McKenzie and consultancy Oxford Economics found that the UK’s technology, automotive, health-care and consumer goods sectors could lose £17bn a year in export revenues in the event of hard Brexit.
Together the four sectors make up 42 per cent of Britain’s manufacturing GDP.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said the government’s priority must be to avoid a hard Brexit by securing continued membership of the single market and a customs union.
In the event of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal, McCluskey said the government needs to put in place plans to ensure ordinary people do not suffer for the government’s mistakes.
McCluskey said, “Theresa May said it was necessary to prepare for ‘every eventuality’. If that means that no deal is now a real possibility, we have to know what the cost of that will be.
“How much is the Treasury stockpiling for the event that we do crash out and what assurances will it give that this won’t be paid for by working people through endless more years of exhausting austerity?”
Despite the obvious risks, Brexiteer Tory MPs continued to extol the virtues of walking away from the negotiations, with John Redwood telling the BBC that “no deal is fine” during an interview following May’s statement.
Redwood’s comments were in stark opposition to those of Tory grandee Chris Pattern, who accused the Tory-led leave campaign of “mendacity” while saying its vision of Brexit will leave the UK “impoverished” and “less significant on the world stage”.
The differences highlight the Brexit fault lines running through the Conservative Party, which have prevented the government from setting out a clear position during the EU negotiations.
Jeremy Corbyn said the Tories squabbling risked the nation’s future.
He told MPs, “Just at the moment when Britain needs a strong negotiating team we have a cabinet at each other’s throats. Half of the Conservative Party want the foreign secretary sacked, the other half want the chancellor sacked.
“Rather than fighting over their own jobs, the reality is that millions of people’s jobs and living standards depend on the success of the negotiations. If the government can’t negotiate a deal for Britain, they should make way for a team that can.”
For more see Unite’s BrexitCheck