Theresa May’s deal? It’s a blindfold Brexit

The PM might try and sell her final deal to businesses, workers and MPs, but what she is promising to deliver is a series of vague promises and nothing concrete. Tony Burke writes.

Theresa May’s Brexit deal, that joint document on Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with the European Union she is trying to sell to the country, is, in reality, pretty worthless.

Business rushed to get behind the deal, but even the CBI had to hastily clarify an email sent out by its head of EU negotiations which said there was no need “to give credit to negotiators – because it is not a good deal.”

The draft political declaration between the UK and the EU – still to be ratified by Parliament – fails to make mention of one of the key demands of Unite, other unions, and industry – frictionless trade. It leaves the door open to a damaging hard Brexit, including trade barriers.

Equally worrying is that May’s Brexit deal does not guarantee workers’ rights.

The deal also states that the UK will leave the European Atomic Energy Community and the European Aviation Safety Agency – both vital for our industries and in particular the aerospace sector.

Jeremy Corbyn was right when he described it as “26-pages of waffle” – peppered with phrases such as ‘The parties will look at’ and ‘The parties will explore’. Corbyn was correct in asking: “What on earth has the government been doing for the last two years?”

Unlike the Withdrawal Deal, this political declaration does not contain any concrete policies to do with Brexit. Instead, it is a set of non-binding ‘aspirations’ and items to ‘consider’ which will form the basis of trade talks with the EU once Britain leaves in March 2019.

Theresa May’s phone-in promises on frictionless trade, regulatory alignment and workers’ rights do not hold up under scrutiny.

Instead, the Prime Minister is boxed into political contradictions of her own making, unable to guarantee the frictionless trade needed to secure jobs, while a hard border is threatened through the Irish Sea.

She has promised one thing to Tory Brextremists and another to business leaders – some of whom are expending significant amounts of goodwill in coming out for the deal.

The stark reality is that vague promises in a non-binding agreement will vanish as soon as the real talks begin.

Only a permanent customs union with tariff free frictionless trade will secure jobs, investment and workers’ rights.

This is a blindfold Brexit for which the only certainty is uncertainty itself.

It will do nothing to stop hard right Tory Brextremists coming along, scrapping the lot at a later date to fulfil their fantasy of the hardest Brexit possible.

Tony Burke is Assistant General Secretary at Unite the Union

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