Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC spoke in clear terms to North East business leaders about the huge damage a no deal Brexit would bring to the region and UK.
At North East England Chamber of Commerce President’s Club lunch at Redworth Hall, Frances O’Grady said: “Negotiations to leave the EU at present appear to be about apportioning blame rather than getting a deal.This pantomime is just going on and on.
“Even by the Government’s own advice with regard to no deal, we are not all in this together. Businesses will struggle.Working people will struggle.It is my view that no responsible Government would consider doing this to their own people.”
Frances O’Grady also stressed the vulnerability of the North East to the consequences of no deal as seen in the Government’s figures which show a potential economy contraction of 16%.
She said: “Manufacturing is the jewel in the crown of the North East economy with 60% of exports going to the EU and Brexit is making investment decisions go in the wrong way.
“Any EU deal must pass three tests: protect jobs with frictionless trade, protect workers rights and the Good Friday agreement.The first priority is to get no deal completely ruled out.We need an extension to Article 50 to allow us to find a sensible solution to this.
“There has to be a new deal for working people, with good quality apprenticeships and a redistribution of power, wealth and opportunity in every region.”
Frances O’Grady also praised the work of the Chamber in supporting connectivity for businesses with its Fast Track East Coast campaign.
The Chamber President’s Club is organised in association with Learning Curve Group and the lunch was sponsored by Pulsant.