Brexit Boss Backtracks On Workers Rights

Boris Johnson’s new Brexit boss

Boris Johnson’s new Brexit chief has backtracked on promises given by Theresa May on workers rights, saying wants to scrap previous commitments to protect  workers’ rights, and has suggested Brexit is an opportunity to escape the EU’s “heavy labour market regulation”.

The Independent newspaper has revealed that David Frost former chief executive of the London Chamber Of Commerce and Industry, who was appointed last week by Johnson to replace Olly Robbins as Downing Street’s EU Brexit chief, (a role that will see him leading any future talks with Brussels) said he was opposed to the approach advocated “by the leaders of both major political parties”, and argued that EU rights should not automatically be written into law after Brexit.

“Business organisations have often in the past criticised the EU’s drift towards heavy labour market regulation,” Mr Frost said in May 2019 in an article reproduced on the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry website.

“So I will take some persuading it will be a good outcome if the EU is able to set new UK labour market rules without any UK say – as currently seems to be envisaged by the leaders of both major political parties.” 

Theresa May had committed the government to maintaining the current level of European Union workers rights, and also went even further, legislating for parliament to automatically be given votes on staying aligned with the bloc’s rules when future legislation emerges. The “dynamic alignment” plans were unveiled by the government in a failed bid to get Labour MPs to back the withdrawal agreement.

Additionally, during the transition period included in the withdrawal agreement, the UK would have to accept rights with no say at all, as rejected by Frost.

Brussels has also suggested the UK would have to stay aligned with future EU workers’ rights, as well as environmental and social legislation, past the end of the transition period – if it wants a trade agreement.

Chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said the bloc would seek non-regression clauses to ensure Britain does not backslide on rules and try to undercut its neighbours.

Commenting on the official’s views, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Boris Johnson claims that he intends to enhance rights at work after Brexit. He and his advisers should be focused on delivering that promise.

“But instead they’re threatening a catastrophic no deal, which would strip away existing legal protections and leave essential rights open to attack. Working people must not be dragged off this cliff edge without getting a Final Say.”

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