One of Britain’s largest private sector unions has overwhelmingly backed a ‘people’s vote’ on the final terms of Brexit, at the union’s national conference in Birmingham.
An emergency motion calling for democratic oversight of the Brexit process was backed at Prospect’s conference, earlier today. The vote makes Prospect one of the largest trade unions to officially support a vote on the terms of Brexit.
Concerns about the lack of clarity on Brexit policy two years after the referendum result prompted the motion to be heard at the conference. Delegates expressed grave concerns about the impact on their members and industries of uncertainty and the potential for a hard Brexit.
The motion calls for several key actions to be taken including:
- A campaign that the public should be given a say on the results of the negotiations and to ensure a democratic stamp of approval on the final outcome – deal or no deal.
- An extension of the transitional arrangements to ensure new negotiations or a return to the status quo before the Brexit vote, if the government’s proposed final outcome is rejected
Since the results of the referendum Prospect has been campaigning to raise the issues around Brexit that will affect members the most.
Prospect is the largest union for highly-skilled workers in science, technology, engineering, maths nuclear, aviation, heritage media and broadcasting. All of these sectors will be affected by Brexit and Prospect has been campaigning to ensure the smoothest transition possible.
Mike Clancy, Prospect general secretary, said: “This vote is indicative of the daily experiences our members are having as they prepare for Brexit with very little guidance or information. We negotiate daily and we know therefore that outcomes have to be the subject of a vote to validate them.
“The lack of clarity on Brexit in areas such as aviation, nuclear and science have affected members’ ability to deliver in their roles as they are expected to prepare for all scenarios. The government’s chaotic approach has put these hardworking people into some of the most difficult professional circumstances in their working history.
“This vote is about ensuring that Brexit is delivered in the right way for the country. It is decisive, bold and most importantly democratic, which is at the heart of what our movement is about.”
The debate took place after a Brexit panel discussion chaired by, comedian and political commentator, Ayesha Hazarika.
Hilary Benn MP and chair of the Commons Exiting the EU select committee, NATS chief executive Martin Rolfe and CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith set out their concerns on the current Brexit negotiations.
Questions to the panel covered immigration, potential shortfalls in science and research funding, how issues around the Irish border will be resolved and how the UK will continue to remain at the forefront of nuclear research.
On the Northern Irish border Rain Newton-Smith said: “I’ve seen business leaders on the verge of tears in Northern Ireland on the importance of not having a physical border.
Hilary Benn said: “The Good Friday Agreement, has just had its 20th anniversary, and it brought conflict to an end. It matters for peace and trade. We can not allow Brexit to undo the extraordinary progress that has been made since the Good Friday Agreement.”