The ‘reckless’ government decision to leave the customs union is a risk to the defence sector, shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith has told defence sector workers.
Ms Griffith made the comments while speaking at a defence seminar hosted by Prospect union on Thursday morning, becoming the latest key member of the shadow cabinet to signal a softening of Labour’s position on membership of the customs union and single market.
Speaking to defence workers at the Prospect defence seminar, Nia Griffith MP, Labour’s shadow defence secretary, said:
“I am extremely concerned that the government has categorically ruled out being part of a customs union with the European Union.
“This reckless decision seems to have been taken purely for ideological reasons, without any regard for those industries which depend on pan-European supply chains and which simply cannot afford to see barriers to trade imposed between Britain and our European partners.
“Rather than subjecting the defence industry to costly delays or queues at the border we need an arrangement which retains the benefits that we currently enjoy within the customs union and the single market.
“My conversations with colleagues at the Trades Union Congress and Prospect have left me in no doubt whatsoever that these benefits are key to protecting the highly-skilled British jobs within our defence sector.
“Instead we have an approach which is economically illiterate and simply designed to appease the hard right of the Conservative party who wish to use Brexit as an opportunity to deregulate the economy and water down hard-won workers’ rights and protections.”
Responding to the comments Prospect deputy general secretary Garry Graham said:
“Creating barriers for the movement of goods, people and services between the UK and the EU will be bad for workers and industries across the country, including the defence sector.
“Prospect represents thousands of defence sector workers who want assurances from the government on Brexit will affect the industry as well as on key issues like defence spending and delays to procurement projects.
“Prospect , along with the TUC and other unions, have been very clear that the government should drop its ideological driven Brexit red lines, listen to workers and businesses, and commit to remaining in the single market and customs union.”