Unions unconvinced by May’s “reheated leftover” offer on worker rights

Sienna Rodgers
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Theresa May’s efforts to woo Labour MPs into voting for her Brexit deal next week are not going well. Earlier this week, her offer of a £1.6bn fund for deprived towns was described as a “Brexit bribe” and dismissed by Labour ‘inbetweeners’ such as Lisa Nandy, who want to be convinced but have not been so far. Yesterday the Prime Minister unveiled the plan that actually had potential to win over opposition backbenchers: concessions on workers’ rights. But that, too, has fallen flat.

Only John Mann and Jim Fitzpatrick are pleased (and will be voting for the deal). All the major players in the trade union movement – the TUC’s Frances O’Grady, GMB’s Tim Roache, Unison’s Dave Prentis – have rejected the proposals. Unite’s Len McCluskey, widely considered to be the most enthusiastic about getting a Brexit deal passed, came to a similar conclusion in a tweet last night: “This is reheated leftover announcements.” Even in this desperate situation, facing the likely possibility that MPs will vote to extend Article 50 if her deal doesn’t pass, the PM cannot deliver the goods.

Although the Brexit date is just over three weeks away, both main parties are engulfed in racism rows. Sayeeda Warsi has finally got coverage for her description of the Conservative Party as “institutionally Islamophobic”. She told Newsnight last night that Sajid Javid may pander to the Tory right with “dog whistles”, but they will still “believe he’s far too Muslim to be the leader”.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn, the shadow cabinet and over 100 MPs have all contacted the Jewish Labour Movement urging it to stay affiliated to the party. According to JLM sources, there is very little chance that the group will vote (indicatively at this point, as formal decisions are to be made at the AGM next month) to break away from Labour. The member-only meeting tonight in London (there’s one in Manchester too) is set to kick off with speeches by Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and Ruth Smeeth, all expected to deliver strong “stay and fight” messages. Indeed, so far, there is no end in sight to the fighting. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

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