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Vote down May’s EU deal and Demand a General Election

Theresa May’s Brexit deal is the worst of all worlds – it will not satisfy those who voted Leave or those who voted to Remain.
 
For those who voted to leave it shackles us to the EU and puts restrictions on what trade deals we can sign with the rest of the world. And for those voted remain, it keeps us closely aligned with the EU without having a seat at the table in Brussels.
 
Brexit has dominated the political landscape for the last two years. But the divisions exposed by the referendum have only intensified as we approach March 31st next year.

That’s why there is need for a new approach to secure a deal that will protect jobs, the economy and satisfy the democratic will of the country.
 
The Prime Minister’s Brexit deal achieves none of those things. And, as the TUC has rightly highlighted, it fails to protect workers’ rights.
 
What seems to have been lost in the debate about Brexit are pressing issues like poverty, austerity and cuts to our public services.
 
The recent report by the UN special rapporteur into the appalling levels of poverty inflicted upon communities up and down the country did not get the media coverage which would be expected for such a damning indictment.
 
It is now also dawning on the public that Britain may crash out of the European Union without a deal.
 
This would be disastrous for our economy on a number of practical levels. It has been over two years since Article 50 was triggered and yet the government has made no serious attempt to prepare for no deal.
 
The PCS union represents members working in the Border Force and at our ports, performing customs checks.
 
Currently a third of UK imports come through Dover and the Channel Tunnel.
 
These comprise four million freight vehicles, of which only one percent are non-EU. There are around 40,000 checks on non-EU vehicles a year. These take about three to four hours each.
 
If the Government fail to get an adequate trade agreement with the EU and we are faced with having to check all vehicles, the number will jump to four million a year.
 
There would be absolute chaos at the border with huge delays and significant damage to the economy. We have neither the infrastructure nor the staff to deal with such an eventuality.
 
At our airports, not all customs checks are being carried out due to the staff being diverted from to check passports. The current system is massively stretched with airports at “breaking point.”
 
Ministers are fully aware of this situation – yet have done next to nothing in the last two years to prepare our ports and airports for a change in our relationship with the European Union.
 
We are calling on MPs to reject May’s deal and for a general election to be called at the earliest opportunity to allow people to vote for a government that will end the damage inflicted by the Tories’ policies. Ending austerity should be at the core of any negotiations on Brexit.
 
What we need is a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government to seek to extend article 50, reopen negotiations with the EU, and win a deal that protects jobs and public services, welcomes migrants from all over the world, and allows Labour to implement their socialist manifesto.

Mark Serwotka is General Secretary of PCS

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