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Wed, 20 January 2021

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Boris Johnson tries to woo Labour MPs with pledge on workers and environment

Boris Johnson tries to woo Labour MPs with pledge on workers and environment
3 min read

Boris Johnson has launched a last-ditch bid to persuade Labour MPs to back his Brexit deal by pledging to bolster workers' rights and environmental standards after the UK quite the EU.

Downing Street said it was determined to ensure that the "hard won" protections are not weakened by Brexit.

The move comes ahead of a crucial Commons vote on the Prime Minister's new Brexit deal on Saturday.

Mr Johnson knows that he cannot get the agreement through Parliament without the support of Labour MPs and is targeting those representing seats which voted Leave in the 2016 referendum.

Jeremy Corbyn has announced that his MPs will be on a three-line whip to oppose the deal, with Momentum boss Jon Lansman warning that any who defy the leader will deselected as candidates at the next election.

But in a dramatic attempt to woo as many as possible, Number 10 have announced a series of measures aimed at reassuring Labour MPs that workers' rights and environmental standards will not be iluted after Brexit.

Under the proposals, ministers will be forced to come to Parliament whenever the EU changes its rules on workers' rights and explain how the Government plans to respond, with MPs being given a vote on it.

The Government said it will also introduce a "world leading" Environmental Bill to enhance current standards.

Under a "parliamentary lock", a minister has to make a statement on government objectives for the negotiations on the future partnership with the eEU, with that also being subject to a vote. 

A Downing Street spokesperson said: "The UK has a long and proud tradition of leading the way in workers’ rights and environmental protections where we have always set a high standard. We recognise that MPs want to see these hard won rights protected, not weakened by our departure from the EU and we are happy to ensure this is the case. 

"Both the public and parliamentarians should be in no doubt that as we leave the EU we will maintain and increase these protections both via the Withdrawal Agreement and future legislation. The public want Brexit done so we can focus on focus on the priorities of the British people, including the NHS and making sure that our children get the best possible education."

But Laura Pidcock, the shadow minister for employment rights, said: "This empty gesture is not worth the paper it’s written on. If Boris Johnson was committed to workers' rights and environmental rights he wouldn't have spent the last few weeks removing legally-binding commitments from the Withdrawal Agreement.

"The reality is that when MPs vote they will still be voting on a sell-out Tory deal that provides no guarantees on these fundamental rights and would lead to a race-to-the-bottom on conditions for workers across the country and would worsen the climate crisis."

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