GMB demands May publishes Brexit risk assessments

GMB general secretary Tim Roache has today written to the Prime Minister demanding the government publishes its Brexit risk assessments alongside this month’s Budget.

The union said Theresa May could no longer keep the risk assessments from public view after the Department for Exiting the European Union, which has completed over 50 different risk studies, refused to share any of them with the British public saying officials need to make policy in a “safe space”.

In March, the GMB published opinion polling which showed more than twice as many members of the public want to see these reports published than those who do not.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Tim Roache writes: “By not publishing the reports, your departments are keeping all of those with an interest in the success of UK industries in the dark. Keeping this information from the public is preventing us from working together to navigate the challenges, mitigate the risks and take advantage of any opportunities that may arise as we leave the European Union.

“The public also want to see the risk reports published. In March 2017, GMB published opinion polling which showed more than twice as many members of the public want to see these reports published than those who do not. Yet it seems the only way those outside of government can read assessments on how the UK economy might fare und​er the different Brexit scenarios is to look overseas.

“During the referendum, the Leave campaign’s slogan was ‘take back control’ – not ‘let’s fly blind’. I therefore urge the government to publish the risk reports, engage with trade unions and employers together to safeguard jobs and support our industries. Refusal to publish them will only increase suspicion that the government is making decisions relating to Brexit against the economic interests of working people.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government has refused to publish its own industry impact reports, presumably because they don’t tell a great story. But people want politicians to start some straight talking. That means the government must level with the British public about the choices and compromises that lie ahead.”

Later today in a lecture to the London School of Economics (LSE) Frances O’Grady will call for the Prime Minister to rescue Britain from her hard-line MPs who want Britain to crash out of the EU without a deal.

She will say: “Whichever way they voted in the referendum, the public is losing confidence in the government to get a good deal. Workers want to know that their jobs, rights and livelihoods are safe. But a group of Conservative MPs is now trying to drive us into a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. It would be a horror show – a nightmare on Brexit Street, with the bad guys waiting in the shadows to slash jobs and workers’ rights.

“A ‘no-deal’ Brexit with default to World Trade Organisation rules would be disastrous. It would hit manufacturing hard, and leave services, which make up the bulk of our economy, out in the cold. I believe that people are tired of puerile no-deal threats and pie in the sky promises. They want politicians to level with them about the choices and compromises ahead.”

“We have reached the point when the Conservatives alone have proved inadequate for the task ahead. They are unable to put the national interest before their own bitter factional interests. Not just the Prime Minister, but 60 million people are being held to ransom by 30 or so hard Brexit diehards.

“The Prime Minister needs to break free. She should bring together a negotiating team that genuinely represents the whole country. Let’s call it ‘Team UK’. It would be cross party, with representation from business and unions, and from every UK nation.  It would force us to focus on the realities of the negotiation – the priority of protecting jobs and investment, the compromises to achieve it, and the price Britain will pay if we fail.”

She will add: “The test for a final deal is that it protects jobs, investment and workers’ rights. People want to hear a sensible, smart, realistic plan to deliver that. So we must keep all options on the table. We should not be boxing Britain in by ruling out ongoing membership of the single market and customs union.

“Staying in the single market and customs union would be the best way to secure our long-term economic interests, jobs and rights. If there’s a better answer, the TUC is ready to listen. But the government has patently failed to come up with a convincing alternative.”


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