Union chiefs demand the PM takes no deal off the table

Red Len in No 10! Union chief McCluskey makes his first ever visit to Downing Street as the PM tries to win the support of workers’ groups for her deal

  • Unite boss Len McCluskey and the GMB boss Tim Roache are going to No10 
  • It is the first time ever Theresa May has met the union bosses face to face  
  • PM is launching the charm offensive as she scrambles for support on Brexit
  • TUC chief Frances O’Grady said the PM had to give ground and protect workers  
  • e-mail



Union leaders demanded Theresa May takes no deal off the table and protect workers’ rights after Brexit in the latest No 10 talks to salvage the divorce deal.

TUC chief Frances O’Grady was the first of the union barons to emerge from Downing Street today, while Unite boss ‘Red Len’ McCluskey also appeared at the door to No 10. 

GMB’s General Secretary Tim Roach and Unison’s Dave Prentis are also expected to see the PM today. 

Downing Street refused to reveal the detail of what was discussed at the meetings, which are part of a wider effort to find a way through the Brexit impasse.

Unite boss ‘Red Len’ McCluskey appeared at the door to No 10 today (pictured) as union leaders accepted a rare invite to Theresa May’s Downing Street to discuss Brexit 

TUC chief Frances O’Grady was the first of the union barons to emerge from Downing Street today (pictured), warning the PM had to give ground

Downing Street refused to reveal the detail of what was discussed by Theresa May (pictured yesterday in the Commons)  at the meetings, which are part of a wider effort to find a way through the Brexit impasse

Mr McCluskey said he hoped his first ever meeting with Theresa May was not a ‘PR stunt’.

He stressed that a no-deal Brexit would be ‘disastrous’ and urged the Prime Minister to extend Article 50 beyond March 29 for three months.

Mr McCluskey said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was right to refuse to meet the Prime Minister unless she ruled out a no-deal Brexit.

The Unite leader said companies were now putting investment decisions on hold because of the ongoing uncertainty.

He added: ‘I cannot conceive any prime minister taking us out of Europe with a no deal – it would be catastrophic.’

  • Airbus chief admits ministers ASKED it to ‘make clear the… May draws up nine ways to save Brexit: PM will race to get…
  • Brexiteer Sir James Dyson is accused of ‘staggering…

Share this article

Ms O’Grady said workers are worried about their jobs and need reassurance about their future after the UK leaves the EU.

‘The Prime Minister should do the right thing and take a no-deal off the table so that genuine dialogue can take place,’ she said.

Ms O’Grady added: ‘I was looking for guarantees on workers’ rights now and into the future.

‘We have a Prime Minister on a temporary contract- she cannot bind the hands of a future prime minister.

‘People wanting her job are on record as saying Brexit is an opportunity to reduce workers’ rights.

‘The Prime Minister should stop listening to the bad boys at the back of the class. More time is needed for genuine talks.’ 

The PM is laying on the trade union charm offensive after her Brexit plan was  rejected by 432 to 202 votes – the biggest defeat ever inflicted on a British PM.

Mrs May held calls with the union chiefs less than a fortnight ago – the first time she has ever picked up the phone to them.

Unite boss Len McCluskey (pictured left) and GMB General Secretary Tim Roach (pictured right) have been invited to Brexit talks at No10 later today

The high-stakes wrangling comes as Mrs May desperately scrambles to fend off efforts by Remainers and Labour to tie her hands in a series of crunch votes on Tuesday.

What is Tuesday’s Plan B vote and what will it mean?

What is happening? 

Because Theresa May’s Brexit deal was defeated, the law says she must tell Parliament what her Plan B is.

This has to be done in a motion to the Commons, which will be voted on by MPs next Tuesday night.

That motion can be re-written by MPs if they table amendments and win a vote in favour of them.

Some amendments have already been tabled and MPs can keep producing them until Monday night.

What does May’s plan say? 

It promises more cross-party working, renews commitments to protecting workers’ rights after Brexit and says the PM will ask Brussels for more concessions on the backstop.

It it based on the current deal that was crushed by 230 votes last week.

What do the main amendments say? 

Jeremy Corbyn’s amendment says Parliament should vote on ‘options’ including a renegotiation of the deal to get a permanent customs union and for a second referendum. 

A cross party amendment from Yvette Cooper and Nicky Morgan seeks to block no deal by giving time to a draft law that would require the Government to delay Brexit if a deal has not been agreed by February 26. It upturns normal convention by putting a backbench MP’s Bill ahead of Government plans. 

An amendment from Tory rebel Dominic Grieve seeks to set up weekly debates that would mean regular votes on what to do in the absence a deal. His amendments sets aside six named days for the debates – including as late as March 26. 

What would the vote do? 

Legally nothing – but if the Commons votes in favour of a clear way forward by a majority it will be a major political signal of what might happen.

Is it a new ‘meaningful vote’ that can approve May’s deal? 

No. At some point, the PM will have to stage a repeat of last week’s vote to get explicit approval from MPs to go ahead with her deal if she wants it to survive. 

Allies of the premier have conceded she will be forced to try to delay the UK’s departure date beyond March if the Houses passes a mechanism proposed by Yvette Cooper and pro-EU MPs next week.

There have been glimmers of hope for Mrs May amid evidence that Eurosceptics and the DUP are looking for a way of climbing down and supporting her plan.

Tory loyalist Simon Hoare told MailOnline today that he believed the ‘penny appears to be dropping’ among hardline colleagues that the ‘prize’ of Brexit might be lost unless they compromise.

But backbencher Johnny Mercer was praised by Eurosceptic MPs this morning after he demanded that Parliament stops ‘cowering from no deal’.

‘Are we brave enough to face down the prospect of leaving the European Union without a deal if that’s what it takes to keep the promise that has been made to the British people?’ he said.

On Monday she signalled that she is would be prepared to give union chiefs a say in the next stage of Brexit talks as she desperately scrambles to try to win more support.

Addressing MPs on her so-called Brexit Plan B, Mrs May said: ‘We will reach out beyond this House and engage more deeply with businesses, civil society and trade unions.’

On Tuesday she held calls with business groups including the CBI, the Federation of Small Businesses, and the Institute of Directors.

After suffering a humiliating defeat on her Brexit deal, the PM is desperately trying to garner more support for her Brexit plans.

But she was mocked by Labour and Remainer MPs on Monday night after she unveiled her Brexit Plan B – and it looked remarkably similar to her Plan A.

She again vowed to oppose a second referendum or any delay to Brexit, and instead pledged to go back to Brussels and try to get fresh concessions on the hated Irish backstop.

Her words won plaudits from the DUP and Brexiteers, but Tory Remainers and Labour accused her of running out of ideas. 

The scale of the opposition to the PM’s plans was laid bare today as Remain plotter MPs finally unveiled their bid to water-down and or block Brexit altogether 

Source: Read Full Article