We can’t turn the clock back on Brexit, but let’s use the negotiations to build a better future, says UNISON’s Dave Prentis

Sunday 11 September 2016

For immediate release

The government must use the Brexit negotiations to build a new, fairer Britain, and should start by throwing off the shackles of austerity, says UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis today (Sunday).

Speaking in the debate on the impact of the EU referendum vote upon the UK economy and its public services – at the 148th Trades Union Congress in Brighton later this afternoon – Dave Prentis will say:

“We are living through difficult times, and the aftermath of a referendum in which people voted in good faith to leave the EU. But many made that decision based on false promises from politicians who should have known better.

“The aftermath of the referendum has brought out the worst in our society. A rising and ugly tide of racism, frightening anti-foreigner, anti-immigrant sentiment once consigned to the sewer of the far right, now unleashed into the mainstream.

“The referendum result has also left the government without a plan. Conservative politicians

parroting ‘Brexit is Brexit’ as a substitute for a proper economic plan for our country, our jobs and our children’s futures.

“We might have a new Prime Minister, but she is sticking with the failed austerity that prolonged the recession and hurt so many working people.

“Harsh spending cuts are pushing nurses, teaching assistants, social workers, town hall staff and those caring for our loved ones beyond breaking point.

“But the British people didn’t vote for more cuts in June, they didn’t endorse austerity, in fact they voted for the opposite – for more spending.

“Voters were promised more money for public services by the Brexiteer politicians. When people went to cast their votes, many will have been thinking of the big red Boris bus that promised £350m a week for the NHS.

“Yet within hours of the official result, Leave politicians were falling over themselves to backtrack on their false promises.

“But there is a better way. Rather than use Brexit as an excuse to repeat the failed policies of the past, the government should use it as an opportunity to throw off the shackles of spending cuts and invest in jobs, services and infrastructure.

“A new approach from ministers would renew our country, rebalance the economy and give the next generation the opportunities they deserve.

“In future EU negotiations, the government could put the voice of employees first, and create agreements that protect working people, the environment and equal rights.

“It could be an opportunity for ministers to turn the tables on the privatisers, the free marketeers and all those who would use departing the EU as an excuse to turn Britain into an even lower tax, lower investment, free-trade tax haven for the super-rich.

“Ministers could seize the opportunity of a better, fairer, much more equal Britain. But we all know that won’t happen.

“That’s why more than ever we need a united Labour Party, an electable one that can affect real change.

“The Labour Party must get on with the job of providing a proper opposition and showing it is an alternative government in waiting.”

Media contacts:
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: l.chinchen@unison.co.uk
Sophie Goodchild M: 07767 325595 E: s.goodchild@unison.co.uk