Brexit: Workers’ rights under threat, warns Welsh minister

Jeremy Miles

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Jeremy Miles said he has concerns over the current negotiations

Wales’ Brexit minister has warned any deal brokered by the UK government could threaten economic, social and environmental rights.

Jeremy Miles said the focus on finding a solution to the Irish border should not be the only concern for Wales.

Labour has said it would call a referendum on any deal on exiting the EU – with the Welsh Government saying it would campaign to remain.

The UK government said it wanted a deal “that works for the whole of the UK”.

Officials from the UK and EU have been holding negotiations on getting a deal done in time for the 31 October Brexit deadline.

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said compromise was inevitable and Mr Johnson could be “trusted” to get an agreement acceptable to leave-backing MPs.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson updated the cabinet on the talks earlier on Sunday.

Parliament will meet on Saturday and vote on any deal achieved by Mr Johnson at a Brussels summit this week.

The UK Labour party said it would “wait and see” but would oppose anything “damaging”.

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Mr Miles warned quelling concerns over the Irish border would not solve broader concerns over the prime minister’s proposals for a future arrangement with the EU.

“This set of negotiations is focusing on the backstop, but what people haven’t been focusing on is what else the prime minister said in his letter to President Juncker – which is that he’s looking for a free trade agreement,” said Mr Miles on BBC Sunday Politics Wales.

“That basically means cutting back on workplace rights, social rights and environmental rights. That tells you the kind of country he wants Britain to be after Brexit, which is not the kind of country we would want to see come into being.”

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he believes a general election could be held before the end of the year – but Mr Miles insisted the commitment to a referendum from Labour remained.

“If a deal is reached, the key thing is that the deal is put back to the people so the public can decide whether they think whatever is agreed, if anything is agreed, is acceptable or whether they want to remain,” he said.

Talks in Brussels between UK and EU officials – described as “intense technical discussions” – are continuing on Sunday.

Ambassadors to the EU from 27 member countries are scheduled to meet later and Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, is expected to brief them on the talks.

The summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday is seen as the final chance to get a Brexit deal agreed ahead of 31 October.

A UK government spokeswoman said: “The UK is a global leader on standards and has an excellent track record on workers’ rights, social and employment law and environmental regulation. This will only continue and improve after Brexit.

“There are numerous examples of where the UK already goes further than the EU, such as on the length of maternity leave, shared parental leave and greenhouse gas targets.”

Timeline: What’s happening ahead of Brexit deadline?

Monday 14 October – The Commons is due to return and the government will use the Queen’s Speech to set out its legislative agenda. The speech will then be debated by MPs throughout the week.

Thursday 17 October – Crucial two-day summit of EU leaders begins in Brussels.

Saturday 19 October – Special sitting of Parliament and the date by which the prime minister must ask the EU for another delay to Brexit under the Benn Act, if no Brexit deal has been approved by Parliament and they have not agreed to the UK leaving with no deal.

Thursday 31 October – Date by which the UK is due to leave the EU, with or without a withdrawal agreement.

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