Leaked: Workers’ rights under threat as Boris Johnson backtracks on pre-election pledge

19th December 2019 / United Kingdom
Leaked: Workers’ rights under threat as Boris Johnson backtracks on pre-election pledge

By TruePublica: Number 10 has refused to say if the many rights enjoyed by millions of working people in the UK and assured by the manifesto will be protected when the UK leaves the EU, despite promises made by Boris Johnson earlier in the year that employment rights will not be weakened post-Brexit.


Laws safeguarding workers’ rights and environmental standards could be abandoned or severally curtailed after Brexit, in a move that would be seen as a betrayal by workers who gave their vote to the Conservatives in the general election to ‘get Brexit done.’

The general election manifesto specifically states on page one that the Conservatives will be “supporting workers and their families“.

However, Welfare Weekly reports that a Number 10 spokesperson appeared to suggest that a commitment made by Boris Johnson in October may be dropped.

It comes after the Conservatives secured a large majority in last week’s general election, meaning the new Government can push forward its agenda with little or no opposition.

PM Boris Johnson promised in October that existing workers’ rights would be protected after the UK leaves the EU, but his seemingly unassailable lead means that he can easily ditch any promises made before or during the election campaign.

Fears have been heightened by this leak to the Financial Times – quite clearly stating that Boris Johnson intends to water down workers’ rights in the post-withdrawal treaty negotiations. Jim Pickard is Chief Political Correspondent at the FT.



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Mr Johnson’s withdrawal agreement will be brought before parliament on Friday and will easily pass with support from both new and old Tory MPs.

An original draft proposal promised that workers’ rights would not be weakened post-Brexit, but this leak says differently and Number 10 has so far refused to say if the new government will stand by this commitment.

Mr Johnson’s spokesperson said: “We plan to start the process before Christmas and will do so in the proper constitutional way in consultation with the speaker” and added: “We will present a bill which will ensure we get Brexit done before the end of January. It will reflect the agreements made with the EU on our withdrawal.”

Ministers pledged before the election that the government would not weaken current EU employment rights and environmental standards.

Personnel Today says – The internal UK government memo on the consequences of the new Brexit withdrawal agreement replaces the word “adequate” with the word “appropriate” to describe mechanisms for enforcing common social, environmental, and labour standards after the UK leaves the EU. This change of language, the note says, means it can now be argued that it is “inappropriate for the future UK-EU relationship” that disputes about commitments on employment and other areas such as the environment, tax and state aid should be subject to binding arbitration. The memo contains a series of claimed negotiation wins from the Brexit deal renegotiation, weakening the scope and strength of Level Playing Field (LPF) commitments, a crucial element in a future UK-EU trade arrangement.

In other words – the new Brexit deal gives the government space to manoeuvre and to weaken workers rights.

PM Boris Johnson has committed to completing new trade negotiations with the EU by the end of December 2020, which many commentators were saying was “impossible”, risking further turmoil and uncertainty for businesses. To that end, the PM has just announced that forcing Brexit one way or the other by law will happen by the due date next year.

Markets reacted badly to the news.



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