After reviewing the representations made by my constituents, analysing the deal myself in detail and listening carefully to members of our front bench it is clear that the Bill in its current form is pernicious and the miniscule amount of time dedicated by Government to its debate today infringes democratic accountability.
I promised my constituents at the last election that I would respect the result of the referendum, work towards securing a Brexit deal that protects the interests of people in Salford and Eccles and avoid a damaging No Deal scenario. For these reasons I did not vote against the Bill on the 30th December 2020.
Nonetheless, I could not in all conscience give my approval to a Bill, which in its current form, will cause my constituents great hardship. This is why I took the decision to withhold my resounding approval of the Bill in its current form in the hope that Government will work to address the many inadequacies within it and ensure that this Brexit Deal sufficiently protects people in Salford and Eccles.
The effect of this Bill, whilst marginally better than a No Deal scenario, briefly means that many jobs are still under threat, whole sectors have been excluded, rights and protections will be at risk of erosion, our public services risk continued underfunding and the Government’s so called levelling up agenda will be severely restricted.
There are 10 demands put forward by the TUC which I will now be pressing for:
- Help our hard-pressed manufacturing sector cope with the new barriers this deal will create, with a package to rival the best in Europe – investing at least £10bn to build supply chain capacity and resilience, green the sector, and create jobs across the UK, supported by a proven workplace training programmes to skill up the workforce. This should be just be the first step in a new industrial strategy to deliver decent jobs across the UK, and protect sectors hit by both the coronavirus crisis and a degraded relationship with our largest trading partner.
- Hire the 50,000 customs officers needed to ensure border crossings are as speedy and friction free as possible
- Implement a new state aid regime that supports companies struggling to keep afloat with the hit their businesses is taking both from coronavirus and from the new trading arrangements.
- Get back to the negotiating table to protect our service industry, with an additional service agreement to get closer to pre-Brexit market access, including mutual recognition of qualifications. Government should be ready to bargain greater regulatory alignment to help protect service sector jobs.
- Get going on the promise to ‘protect and enhance rights’ by bringing forward the long-awaited employment bill including a pledge to end zero-hours contracts.
- Give guarantees that no existing rights will be watered down or fall behind, now or in the future, and that workers’ rights in the UK will be at least as good as those in the EU.
- Ensure workers are not priced out of justice when their rights are compromised in the workplace by guaranteeing there will be no re-introduction of employment tribunal fees.
Protect public services:
- Ensure health and social care will be protected from privatisation in any trade deal, by setting this out in a joint interpretive instrument.
- Support decent jobs through social clauses in public procurement to drive up employment, labour standards, skills and environmental outcomes.
- Increase funding for overstretched public services, fill the current 600,000 vacancies, and don’t cap public sector pay.