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Union leader dismisses PM’s latest Brexit plan as ‘desperate last throw of dice’

But business chiefs have urged MPs to compromise and back the deal in the Commons.

Manuel Cortes (Nick Ansell/PA)
Manuel Cortes (Nick Ansell/PA)

Business leaders have urged MPs to back Theresa May’s latest Brexit deal, but trade unionists have dismissed it as a “desperate last throw of the dice”.

The Prime Minister had hoped to win over Labour MPs by offering commitments on workers’ rights.

But Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA transport union, said there were “no real guarantees on jobs, workers’ rights or future customs arrangements”.

Describing Mrs May’s latest offer as “a desperate last throw of the Brexit dice”, he called for a general election.

“The country simply cannot go on like this. Whatever fate awaits Brexit, we clearly need a general election and a new government.

“It’s high time our political class woke up to what is wilful destruction of our economy.

“May’s Brexit deal must be put to a confirmatory vote – without further hurdles – so we can draw a line under this damaging Brexit saga.”

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First, which campaigns to make the capital the best city in the world to do business, also called for Mrs May to “actively support” another referendum.

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(PA Graphics)

She said: “The Prime Minister is right to offer a vote on the second referendum as part of the debate on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

“However, if she is confident in her conviction that this Bill is best for the country, she should actively support a second referendum – not just allow it to be tabled.

“Otherwise, Parliament will continue going round and round in circles. Enough is enough: we need a second referendum to avoid permanent paralysis.”

However Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, urged MPs to support compromise so the country can move forward.

“Brexit has left the economy stranded in no-man’s land,” she said.

“The Prime Minister’s offer provides a way forward, but only MPs can take it.

“Businesses urge them finally to find the spirit of compromise that has eluded them so far. Jobs and livelihoods depend on it.”

Adam Marshall, British Chambers of Commerce director general, called for an end to the deadlock as “businesses need concrete outcomes to plan for the future”.

He said: “In the absence of parliamentary consensus on either the Withdrawal Agreement or any other proposition for the future, both businesses and investment remain in limbo.

“Companies across the UK are frustrated, but most are still concerned about the prospect of a messy and disorderly exit from the EU.

“The date may have changed, but the practical questions businesses face remain the same – and the real-world impacts of parliamentary indecision and delay are growing each and every day.”

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “The blunt truth is that there is still no clear path out of the current political deadlock.

“If we are to make progress then politicians need to step up to the plate. It is not enough to say they are against no deal, they must use their votes in Parliament to find a deal that prevents this looming catastrophe.

“Once a deal is passed, the Government must then work toward a trade deal that provides for frictionless, tariff-free trade with the EU.”

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