Following the result on June 23rd last year, the apocalypse that many Remoaners predicted has failed to suffice. There was no third world war or a ‘great Brexit recession.’ The world did not turn over. At the moment, leaving the EU has not yet happened. But there is one area the left continue to drum on about, and that is the speculation that Brexit will lead to a bonfire of workers’ rights. This claim is just pure hysteria, and here is why.
There have been numerous reports that the Prime Minister has failed to guarantee that workers’ rights will be safeguarded after we leave the EU in April 2019. A political own goal some on the left are no doubt thinking. Yet the reality is far more stark than that. This country has been implementing legislation to protect workers since the Victorian times, when the European Coal and Steel Community was not even dreamed of, let alone the EU. To argue that Britain needs the EU to protect its workers is ludicrous. And even if a government was elected that destroyed years of progress, the beauty of our electoral system is that you can remove the administration that bulldozed those laws. You do not have that luxury with the EU.
Since Tony Blair signed the European Social Chapter in 1997, workers have been provided with certain rights like twenty-eight days’ paid leave and guaranteed maternity leave. Nonetheless, British workers are entitled to five weeks and three days of paid holiday leave (including bank holidays), which is considerably more generous than the 1998 Working Time Regulations of four weeks. Britain brought in this law 35 years before we joined the EU and there is no evidence this law will change post-Brexit.
EU law provides 14 weeks of maternity leave for workers. Britain is more generous than European law in this respect. British workers are guaranteed 52 weeks of paid maternity leave and there is a period of 40 weeks when this can be shared. However, the Government has never said this would be impacted by Brexit.
Many trade unionists and Remain supporters have argued that equal pay will end once we leave the EU. But the truth of the matter is that British workers have been entitled to equal pay since 1970, two years before we joined the European Economic Community, or Common Market.
Considering how costly the Working Time Directive is for numerous employers, it will be down to the discretion of the Government to decide if they intend to retain this legislation. The proposed Great Repeal Bill will allow certain EU laws to be retained whilst scrapping legislation that acts as a hindrance to this country.
It is time for the left to get real about the imagined threat Brexit poses to workers’ rights. We have enshrined numerous safeguards for workers before the EU was even dreamed of. To imply that Britain needs the EU to protect its workforce shows how little both the left and bitter Remoaners think about this country. In fact, it shows that the left are rewriting history to suit their own narrow agenda. It makes you wonder what Tony Benn would say if he heard his former colleagues produce such dribble.