BLOG: Turning the UK into a deregulated tax haven is not an appropriate negotiation strategy

Just like 2016, 2017 is proving to be as eventful. This week we learnt what some of Theresa May’s Brexit plan entails – it didn’t look pretty – and the European Parliament appointed a new President.

On Tuesday Theresa May’s speech was riddled with inconsistencies and included the threat of turning the UK into a tax haven if she doesn’t get what she wants – the ultimate hard-Brexit.

By giving up on membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union the Prime Minister is taking a significant risk. She is threatening the jobs and living standards of millions whose lives depend upon the UK’s access to the Single Market of over 500 million citizens. It is crucial that the Government publish a Brexit plan before Article 50 is triggered. Her plan must be scrutinized by Parliament. Whether Leave or Remain, nobody voted to be poorer.

Labour will also fight to ensure that the economic and social protections that the EU provides are protected during and after negotiations. Turning the UK into a deregulated tax haven where big business strip away workers’ rights, environmental protections and avoid tax is not an appropriate negotiation strategy. Such a situation is unacceptable and the Prime Minister should be ashamed to make such threats.

These concerns were reinforced by the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat – who will hold the rotating Presidency of the EU Council at the beginning of negotiations. Muscat stated that “We want a fair deal for the UK but that deal necessarily needs to be inferior to membership. This should not come as a surprise to anyone — indeed thinking it can be otherwise would be a detachment from reality.”

Whilst the PM was trying to strip away workers’ rights, the European Parliament voted to strengthen them through the European Pillar of Social Rights. MEPs voted to enforce good working conditions for those in new forms of employment, end unpaid traineeships and zero-hour contracts, combat child poverty and ensure proper funding for up-skilling. Post-Brexit the Government must ensure that the UK upholds such measures and doesn’t oversee a bonfire of workers’ rights.

MEPs also witnessed the election of Antonio Tajani, candidate for the European People’s Party, as the new President of the European Parliament – narrowly beating the Socialists and Democrats candidate Gianni Pittella. Gianni thanked the S&D Group for its full support and promised to continue pushing a progressive agenda for all Europeans.

With Brexit and Trump on the horizon, a strong progressive agenda is needed more than ever across Europe.

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