An Anglo-American trade deal drawn up in Trump Tower cannot provide a replacement for access to the single market, Len McCluskey warned today.
The Unite general secretary said the trade union is in the “fight of our lifetime” to halt a hard Brexit.
He told the north west conference of Britain’s largest union that Theresa May is “deaf” to the concerns of British industry and set out the risk posed to British manufacturing by Donald Trump’s “America first” stance.
“Be in no doubt: he may give us a few crumbs from his trade table, but president Donald Trump will want our soul in return.”
“Consider what an America-first president would demand from the United Kingdom in return for a trade deal: open access to our National Health Service for US private healthcare; the side-lining of trade union rights; the destruction of our food and farming standards,” he added.
McCluskey criticised the prime minister’s decision to drop attempts to preserve tariff-free access to the single market as part of her approach to Brexit talks.
“Theresa May is not just refusing to listen to workers, she is deaf to the concerns of the manufacturing industry too.
“We are on tenterhooks waiting for the next wave of investment in major companies. And Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, despite private guarantees from the government, has warned that companies will want to see the results of talks between the UK and the European Union before decisions are made to invest.”
Unite will continue to lead the fight under his leadership he added, saying: “We will not shy away from engaging in this, the most important recasting of our economy since the second world war, because anything less would be a gross dereliction of the duty we have to defend working people.”
“Those who claim ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’ simply do not live in the real world. They certainly don’t live in the world of Unite’s members anxious to know that they will still have a job at the end of this process.
“I say again, people may have voted to be out of the EU, but they did not vote to be poorer or to be out of work. We are now, then, in the fight of our lifetime to defend working class communities from the ‘hard’ Brexit zealots.”
“In Liverpool we are still rebuilding our city from the effects of the last great Anglo-American romance. We know all too painfully what that did to our communities, this waterfront, and our children’s aspirations that time.”
“It’s families and communities in cities like these – and across the rust belt in America – that always pay the price for the free-wheeling, winner takes all capitalism that Thatcher and Reagan revered in their day – and Theresa May and Donald Trump pursue today.”
“So while we accept the decision to leave the EU, we will never accept a Brexit that will be paid for by working class communities cobbled together on the top floor of Trump Tower.”