Over the next two weeks we will watch developments relating Brexit with an even keener eye (if that’s posible). As we approach the trigger date of 29 March or ‘brown ground-down day’ as it is increasingly being referred to in the slippery halls of Westminster. But since we seem no closer to achieving a Brexit Withdrawal Agreement those on the far right of UKIP and beyond the frontiers of The European Research Group are beginning to pant and hum at the prospect of falling out of Europe without an agreement. They rest their hopes on ‘no deal’ forcing the government to ‘relaxing’ regulations in all sorts of sectors of government in a bid to ensure business stays in the UK rather than migrating to the safety of the European Union. For employment law purposes they are effectively gambling away worker rights on the basis that the alternative is even worse, an exodus private business. So when will EU laws cease to still apply?(1) When we consider the volume of current legislation which arrived on our shores via Brussels, the landscape could be virtually unrecognisable after 11pm on 29 March 2019 and because Brexit has never been attempted by an EU nation, potentially the skies the limit. Still, despite the unsubstantiated assurances of the ‘Hard Brexiters’, research keeps arriving which paints an ever bleaker picture. The NHS, contrary to the ‘claims’ of the Leave campaign’s ‘battle bus’ during the 2016 referendum campaign is likely to be much worse off.(2) In fact the government has yesterday lost another vote and so now there is increasingly panicked talk of a delayed withdrawal, perhaps until June which should give the Prime Minister further time to keep smashing her head against the same brick wall in the hope of understanding exactly how to circle a square.(3)
So working on the assumption that in two weeks time the UK is likely to be as withdrawn as it was in 1975, there are other stories to consider. Investigations by the group Cherwell have found that some PhD interns at Oxford University are effectively paid less than the National Minimum Wage.(4) It’s as if our top Universities appreciate the need to acclimatise the next crop of graduates to life in the ‘de-regulated’ post Brexit world where competition will reach near gladiatorial levels. A recent investigation by media outlet Commonspace found that the ‘slave economy’ was rife in the Scotland & the UK despite the introduction of legislation designed to combat this problem.(5) A no deal Brexit will only make this worse, but what’s worse for workers rights than a slave economy? Perhaps the re-introduction of capital punishment…for three bouts of lateness? It’s next to impossible in the current political climate to conceive that the current government, precariously balanced on the rusty girders of the DUP, even possesses the tools to begin to address this issue. Then consider the recent report by the Equality charity the Fawcett Society and solicitors Hogan Wells into sexual harassment at Westminster (Part 5 of the Equality Act means MP’s are exempt from sex harassment legislation!)(6) Is it any wonder that Danny Dyer’s rant about Brexit was greeted as sage like wisdom and went viral?
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.
THOMAS JEFFERSON, letter to W. S. Smith, November 13, 1787
With contradictions running as deeply as they are, Parliament would do well to heed the warnings of our own history. Lest we reap a populist Brexit intent on leaving more than just Brussels behind. In our fractured land, it’s about the only thing both sides share, contempt for our political leaders.
“A reputation built on success”
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