GMB calls for public vote on final Brexit deal

PUBLISHED: 14:31 04 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:08 04 September 2018

GMB general secretary Tim Roache

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One of the country's biggest trade unions is calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal, saying promises made during the referendum are "not the reality we are facing".

The GMB said it had consulted thousands of its members across the country and there was widespread support for the public to have a say on the final outcome of negotiations.

The union, which has 620,000 members, backed remaining in the EU, although admitted its members were divided.

General secretary Tim Roache said in a message to members: "Sitting on the sidelines 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 said GMB members in manufacturing, ports, chemicals, energy, retail and public services were facing uncertainty and a government more preoccupied with "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."

He said a "Tory hard Brexit" would be a disaster for GMB members, adding: "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."

Eloise Todd, CEO of the anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain, said it was "great that the GMB has committed to supporting a people’s vote on the terms of Brexit".

She said: "Hard-won workers' rights in our country must not be thrown away lightly, and it is the workers themselves that should make that call, not a government delivering a damaging Brexit.

"It’s time for other unions to follow suit, and the Labour Party too.”

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