Unprecedented alliance vows to fight for a “Progressive Deal” after Article 50

Leading figures from Labour and Green parties, along with the general secretaries of a number trade unions, have released a statement vowing to fight on after the declaration of Article 50 today.

29th March 2017

  • As Article 50 is triggered, leading Labour and Green figures, along with trade unions, vow to oppose “a harmful, extreme form of Brexit”
  • New Progressive Deal launched, fighting for workers’ rights, free movement, environmental regulations and other protections.
  • Campaigners raise the alarm over the Great Repeal Bill – which will hand ministers unprecedented powers to change the law by decree

Leading figures from Labour and Green parties, along with the general secretaries of a number trade unions, have released a statement vowing to fight on after the declaration of Article 50 today.

The letter, which is signed by Clive Lewis and Caroline Lucas, as well as UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis, states: “With article 50 triggered, we are entering a dangerous moment for our democracy. The government is pursuing a harmful, extreme form of Brexit for which it has no democratic mandate. The British people must have the defining say over what kind of deal is reached. The result of the referendum was not a mandate to undermine our human rights or our rights at work, to scrap environmental protections or to attack migrants. We will not allow this government to pursue a race to the bottom in which we all lose.”

Writing in the Mirror this morning, Clive Lewis added: “There’s a difference between respecting the decision to leave the EU and giving Theresa May dangerous levels of power to decide the future of our country. Parliament let the British people down last month when they let the Prime Minister negotiate leaving the EU without any restriction or guidance.”

The unprecedented alliance of was drawn together by the campaign group Another Europe is Possible. It has launched a new Progressive Deal, which will fight to retain the six progressive elements of EU membership: free movement, workers’ rights, environmental protections, human rights, science and research funding and education links. The Progressive Deal (here) will be a focal point in the coming months.

Michael Chessum, national organiser for Another Europe is Possible, said: “The Tories are using the technicalities of the Brexit process to strip us of rights and freedoms. The antidote to that is clear, principled politics – and finding a message that can cut through. We need to challenge the consensus that immigration and free movement are the cause of falling living standards, and we need to champion workers’ rights, human rights and other protections. That is what the Progressive Deal is about – and if the left can unite around a clear vision, we can absolutely shift the outcome of these negotiations.”

Attention will now turn to the Great Repeal Bill, which is expected to hand unprecedented powers to Theresa May to alter legislation. Campaigners believe that these “Henry VIII powers” will be used to undermine key protections and human rights. In a briefing sent to MPs on Monday (here), Another Europe is Possible and Global Justice Now have laid out 4 key demands to safeguard British democracy – including sunset clauses, enhanced resources for scrutiny and guarantees that important rights will not be affected.

Nick Dearden, Director of Global Justice Now, said: “We don’t have the luxury of sitting around and lamenting the fact that Theresa May has triggered Article 50, as the fight is now on to prevent the government from granting themselves an unprecedented set of powers to pick and choose which laws suit them and which don’t. Using ‘Henry VIII powers’ could mean ministers making significant changes to important legislation without parliamentary approval – something which many countries would deem unconstitutional.”

Writing today for the Independent, Clive Lewis added: “Today I call on fellow MPs of all parties, to stand up for the democratic rights the people of this country have  historically fought for and defended. If we fail, and allow Theresa May to assume the powers of a renaissance monarch, our divisions will grow and our future will look bleak. But if we succeed, we can emerge from this period of uncertainty and division, to make this country more democratic and fairer and to better protect and empower its citizens.”