Skip to main content

One of Britain’s biggest trade unions on Tuesday joined calls for a new public vote on leaving the European Union, saying voters were misled during the 2016 referendum campaign.

The GMB union, which has more than 600,000 members, said “the promises that were made during the referendum campaign are simply not the reality we are facing.”

In a video statement, GMB General Secretary Tim Roache says the union’s members in manufacturing, retail and other sectors face uncertainty because the British government has yet to negotiate a deal with the EU.

Story continues below advertisement

The union says Britons voted to leave the EU, but they “did not vote for economic chaos or to put jobs and hard-won rights on the line,” and voters should be able to accept or reject the final Brexit deal.

With less than seven months to go until Britain leaves the EU, the two sides have yet to strike a deal on divorce terms and future trade, and Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government remains split over how close a relationship to seek with the bloc.

May wants to keep the U.K. aligned to EU regulations in return for free trade in goods. But her plan has infuriated Conservative supporters of a clean-break Brexit, who say it would prevent the U.K. from striking new trade deals around the world.

EU leaders, meanwhile, say May’s plan smacks of “cherry picking” benefits of membership in the bloc without the cost or responsibilities.

Britain and the EU had hoped to hammer out an agreement on divorce terms and the outlines of future trade by October so that it can be approved by individual EU countries before the U.K. leaves the bloc on March 29. Both sides now say that deadline may slip to November or later.

U.K. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab insisted Tuesday that a deal was “within our sights.”

Raab told lawmakers in the House of Commons that the two sides had “injected some additional pace and intensity into the negotiations as we reach the final phases.”

Story continues below advertisement

But Labour Party Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said the negotiations were “in serious trouble” and that the government had no strategy except “to plow on regardless.”

“The government has got six weeks to get this right,” Starmer said. “More of the same will not do.”

With the clock ticking, the British government has ramped up planning for a “no deal” Brexit, amid warnings from businesses that such an outcome could cause economic mayhem.

In a move that may give the markets a measure of reassurance, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said Tuesday that he was talking to the government about extending his term in office to help oversee a smooth Brexit.

Carney is due to leave the helm of the central bank in June after six years, but told a committee of lawmakers he was “willing to do whatever else I can in order to promote both a smooth Brexit and effective transition at the Bank of England.”

Carney said he expected the government to make an announcement “in due course.”

Report an error
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter