Theresa May accused of Brexit 'Santa wishlist'

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Theresa May’s expectations and demands for the trading relationship between Britain and the EU have been labelled unrealistic.

The Prime Minister is to face accusations from a union leader that she is making demands which are the “equivalent of a letter to Santa” about Britain’s future trading deals.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady will say that keeping benefits of the EU’s single market without playing by the rules is not achievable.

Mrs May has said the UK will strike an ambitious trade deal with the EU for when it leaves.

Frances O’Grady: The TUC’s general secretary accused Mrs May of a ‘santa’s wishlist‘ over Brexit (AFP/Getty Images)

But at the TUC conference in Brighton, Ms O’Grady will say that staying in the single market, which offers a tariff-free trade to members, is the best option for British workers long term.

“We have set out our tests for the Brexit deal working people need. Staying in the single market and customs union would deliver it,” she will say.

“The Prime Minister is sticking to the same old script that she can get whatever she wants, that we can all have all the same benefits of the single market without playing by the rules.

“This isn’t a grown-up negotiating position. It’s a letter to Santa. My challenge to all political parties is this: when it comes to Brexit, don’t box yourselves in. Don’t rule anything out.

“Keep all options on the table. And put jobs, rights and livelihoods first.”

But RMT, the transport union, opposes the move to remain in the single market, saying that staying in the market involves keeping “key anti-worker policies”.

And she will call for ministers to produce reports on how industries could be affected by no longer having the same access.

The single market includes the free movement of goods, services, capital and people, as well as eliminating tariffs.

The TUC is concerned EU rules on workers’ rights could be diluted when the UK leaves, saying this would produce a “sweatshop Brexit”, the BBC reported.

But a government spokesman said it would “ensure that workers’ rights are fully protected and maintained” after the UK leaves the EU.

He told the broadcaster: “We will build on our economic success by establishing a deep and special partnership with the EU while embracing the wider world as an independent, open, trading nation.”


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