TUC chief mocks Theresa May’s ‘Santa wish list’ Brexit demands

Posted On: 
11th September 2017

The Prime Minister’s Brexit demands for Britain are the ‘equivalent of a letter to Santa,’ the general secretary of the TUC has said today. 

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady
Credit: 
PA Images

Speaking at the trade union group's annual conference in Brighton, Frances O’Grady urged politicians of all parties to seek permanent membership of the single market and customs union in order to protect workers’ rights after Brexit.  

It is not "grown-up", she said, to expect to keep the benefits of the single market without being a member.

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In her keynote speech, Ms O’Grady told delegates: “We have set out our tests for the Brexit deal working people need. Staying in the single market and customs union would deliver it…

“The Prime Minister is sticking to the same old script that she can get whatever she wants, that we can all have all the same benefits of the single market without playing by the rules.

“This isn’t a grown-up negotiating position. It’s a letter to Santa. My challenge to all political parties is this: when it comes to Brexit, don’t box yourselves in. Don’t rule anything out. Keep all options on the table. And put jobs, rights and livelihoods first.”

The intervention will put pressure on the Labour party to change its stance, after Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer stopped short of calling for permanent membership of the single market and customs union, saying only that this should continue during a transitional period.    

He said: "Labour would seek a transitional deal that maintains the same basic terms that we currently enjoy with the EU. That means we would seek to remain in a customs union with the EU and within the single market during this period. It means we would abide by the common rules of both."

“We will always put jobs and the economy first. That means remaining in a form of customs union with the EU is a possible end destination for Labour, but that must be subject to negotiations.

"It also means that Labour is flexible as to whether the benefits of the single market are best retained by negotiating a new single market relationship or by working up from a bespoke trade deal."