WATCH: GMB union heaps pressure on Labour as it backs second Brexit referendum

Posted On: 
4th September 2018

GMB has become the latest major trade union to back a vote on the final Brexit deal, in a move that will heap pressure on Jeremy Corbyn.

GMB members have backed calls for a vote on the final Brexit deal
PA Images

The group has thrown its weight behind the campaign for a final say on Theresa May’s Brexit deal after consulting with its members.

GMB boss Tim Roache said a Tory hard Brexit would be a “disaster” for its members and urged Mrs May to “come back and face the music” after a deal had been struck with the EU.

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The decision by the union, which is one of the UK's largest, will also put a spotlight on the Labour leadership, who have so far resisted calls to back a second vote.

In a video message to members, Mr Roache said: “As a trade unionist, I’m used to negotiations deals for GMB members. Sitting on the side lines watching the mess this Government is making of Brexit is infuriating, because there is so much at stake.

"GMB respects the result of the referendum, but how we leave the EU is as important as the decision to leave in the first place.

"That’s why today, GMB is calling for a public vote on the final deal. As trade unionists, when we negotiate a pay deal with an employer, we go back to our members and ask them if they’re happy with it.

"Whether they want to accept or reject it. That’s what people deserve now, because the promises that were made during the referendum campaign are simply not the reality we are facing."

Mr Roache added that workers in the ports, energy, retail and public services were faced with uncertainty as the Government focusses more on “internal divisions than working people’s livelihoods.”

He added: “People voted for change – they voted to take back control. They did not vote for economic chaos or to put jobs and hard-won rights on the line.

“A Tory hard Brexit would be a disaster for GMB members, the Government need to know they have to come back and face the music – they can’t sell working people down the river. That’s why GMB supports your right to decide what sort of Brexit is the right Brexit. That’s why we support a public vote on the final deal. “

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly ignored calls for the party to back a second referendum despite splits among his own frontbench.

Last month, Shadow Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner blasted suggestions that a vote should be held on the final deal, saying that the “democratic principles” of the country would be at stake and warned that any such move would give “succour to the extreme right.”

But Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer rubbished suggestions that the party was ruling out a vote on the final deal, insisting that “all options should be on the table.”

Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis said of the GMB's announcement: “Re-running the referendum would take us all back to square one.

“Jeremy Corbyn should stand up to his union paymasters and rule out a second referendum once and for all.”