Union leaders react to Brexit meetings with PM

Trade union general secretaries are meeting with Theresa May today to discuss breaking the Brexit deadlock.

Unite’s Len McCluskey, a key ally of Jeremy Corbyn, plus the TUC’s Frances O’Grady, the GMB’s Tim Roache and Unison’s Dave Prentis, are all expected to visit Downing Street.

Below we’ll keep track of the union bosses’ reactions after meeting with the Prime Minister…

TUC

Frances O’Grady said: “The Prime Minister hasn’t given us the guarantees we need on jobs or workers’ rights. Tweaks aren’t enough – we need substantial change to the whole deal.

“But even after a catastrophic defeat, her red lines haven’t shifted, and the threat of no deal hasn’t even been taken off the table. And if she won’t change her position, how can we change ours?”

Unison

Dave Prentis said: “As the UK’s biggest union we have a duty to speak up for 1.3 million public service employees and for working people everywhere. A ‘no-deal’ Brexit must be avoided at all costs, and the Prime Minister needs to rule this out immediately.

“Crashing out of Europe would be catastrophic for the economy, public services and everyone who works in our schools, hospitals, town halls and police forces. However people voted in June 2016, no-one – especially those who are just about managing – was choosing to be worse off.

“The country is desperate for politicians to find a solution to the deadlock paralysing the country. The Prime Minister should be looking to build consensus and putting the interests of the country first, not simply trying to please those who won’t suffer the consequences of a no deal.

“A customs union would solve the issues with Northern Ireland, protect the Good Friday Agreement and allow the UK to keep close links to its biggest trading partner. Employment rights must be protected and keep pace with any developments in Europe.

“But with precious little time on the clock, an extension of Article 50 is essential to bring the country back from the brink and the calamity of a no-deal.”

Unite

GMB

Tim Roache said: “I’m afraid to say the Prime Minister today failed to give us the guarantees we need over protecting jobs and rights at work.The concerns from members and their employers are mounting by the day as the clock runs down, and yet the Prime Minister is still refusing to take her threat of no deal off the table.

“We can’t carry on like this. As this crisis worsens, pretending nothing has changed is simply not good enough. The current deal doesn’t cut it. It pleases no one.

“We need a permanent customs union, legally binding commitments to workers’ rights that can’t be ignored or ripped up by a future Tory government and a policy agenda that tackles the reasons people voted to leave in the first place.

“I asked for an extension to Article 50 but sadly the Prime Minister did not agree.”

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