STUC on the vote to leave the EU

June 24th 2016

Following the vote for the UK to leave in the European Union, Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) General Secretary Grahame Smith said:

“This is a desperately disappointing result and will have enormous consequences for everyone in the UK and beyond.

"The economic consequences are likely to be severe with a significantly detrimental impact on Scottish jobs and investment. With growth currently very weak and employment falling rapidly, the now unavoidable extended period of uncertainty is the last thing the Scottish economy needs.

“The way this Referendum campaign has been conducted has not reflected well on politics or politicians. Overblown rhetoric, downright dishonesty, blatant xenophobia and the peddling of prejudice, with the Leave campaign by far the biggest culprits, have left the country deeply divided.

“It should come as no surprise that many voters just didn’t believe Tory Remain campaigners, many of whom have spent the last thirty years denigrating the EU. The Prime Minister and his Chancellor must shoulder much of the responsibility for this result. He did the right thing in resigning and Osborne should follow suit.

“While some will rush to judgment, it is important that time is taken to properly consider why people voted as they did, and to do so in a way that goes beyond the sort of superficial analysis that characterised the campaign.

“There is little doubt that many people feel alienated from political institutions and disillusioned by their failure to address basic issues, including the right to work, the security of employment, fair treatment in the workplace, and access to quality public services. The Leave campaign cynically and ruthlessly exploited these genuine concerns.

“The fact that many in the Leave campaign used EU migrant workers as scapegoats for our obvious economic shortcomings, is a cover for their unwillingness to admit the failure of the neo-liberal, austerity driven, tax cutting, deregulating policies that they support and that have had such a devastating impact on working class communities.

“This result is a consequence of the failure of successive UK Governments to properly invest in our public services, including affordable housing, to invest in our social and economic infrastructure, to support businesses to invest for the long term to enable them to grow and support people to improve their skills.

“Politicians must now address the root causes of this vote. It will be entirely unacceptable if the Government, whoever is in charge, uses the inevitably weak economy as an excuse for intensifying austerity.

“They must respond by abandoning austerity, by investing in public services, by improving employment rights and social protection for all workers; by holding exploitative employers to account; and by a renewed approach to industrial policy to try and stem the potentially rapid flow of manufacturing and tradeable service jobs to the continent. If not, it will be those working class Leave voters that will be amongst those who suffer most from this decision.

"The reality is that there is no dividend to be gained through abandoning the EU. There will be no access to the single market without free movement of people and there will be no quick and easy trade deals with our major trading partners.

"One of the great ironies is that the UK will never have been more reliant than it is now on the institutions so disgracefully denigrated by the Leave campaign. The Bank of England will be expected to steady the ship but it's not immediately clear it has the tools to do so.

“We expect early discussions with the Scottish Government over the economic and social impact of leaving the EU and its role in and approach to Brexit negotiations. There are many issues to consider not least our future trading arrangements and the status of the many and valued EU workers settled in our country.

“The result in Scotland might be viewed by some as justification for a second Independence Referendum. However, it should be recognised that the economic implications of an independent Scotland are different now than they were in 2014, with the rest of the UK, our nearest neighbour and biggest trading partner, exiting the EU. While a second independence referendum will bring added uncertainty, the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland also needs to be acknowledged.

“We expect Leave campaigners to honour the pledge given during the campaign that leaving the EU will not result in a reduction in employment protection. However, the only way to ensure workers are properly protected is through union organisation and representation and we will be launching a major campaign to ensure that fair work for all is central to the Brexit and future trade negotiations.”

ENDS

For further information contact Kevin Buchanan t 0141 337 8100

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