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A Message Sent on Behalf of TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady

Last night the UK government published the full text of the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, after the Cabinet took the collective decision to back the Brexit deal.

Over the last 24 hours, we’ve seen a government spiralling out of control. As ever, the Conservative party is putting its interests ahead of the needs of working people. The TUC is clear: with this deal, the government has failed to deliver for working people.

We now face a blindfold Brexit. The prime minister is expecting MPs to sign up to something where they can’t see the destination. The Political Declaration isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, as it is not legally binding. And based on what we’ve seen today, a Brexiteer Tory government could come in and rip it up.

The TUC Congress 2018 General Council statement on Brexit set out the TUC’s three tests on workers’ rights, jobs, and the Good Friday Agreement:

The TUC has significant concerns about the lack of employment rights protections in the Withdrawal Agreement:

The Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration do not meet these tests.

In short, we face a transition period where UK workers’ rights start to fall behind; a free trade agreement where they could be dismantled by a future government; and a backstop which purports to protect existing employment rights while giving no commitments that UK workers’ rights will keep pace with the EU and which can’t be enforced.

On jobs, even the government has acknowledged that any of the options they’ve laid out to date would be worse for the economy than remaining in the single market and the customs union. This deal is bad for jobs and investment in all regions of the UK. The only question left to answer is how much worse this deal will be than our existing relationship.

On Northern Ireland, while the immediate threat of a hard border has been avoided, it’s clear that big questions remain, particularly around the social and political elements of the Good Friday Agreement.

The TUC will not be supporting a deal which is bad for rights, bad for jobs and fails to fully safeguard the Good Friday Agreement. We will be urging all MPs to vote against it.

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