Rail union boss Mick Lynch was grilled over his support for Brexit and the potential for the UK’s exit from the EU to cause the ripping up of workers’ rights.
LBC host James O’Brien challenged the leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union (RMT) over his union’s decision to back a Leave vote in 2016 and the planned “bonfire” of EU laws after Brexit.
“These are hard won rights that the TUC now fears are going to be abolished by legislation being pursued by the current government as a direct consequence of the Brexit you supported,” the host said.
But Mr Lynch argued the Retained EU Law bill is a “direct consequence of having this government” – saying the plan to ditch regulations automatically by the end of 2023 was a “political decision” by Tory ministers.
In a feisty exchange, the anti-Brexit radio host said: “You can’t have one without the other – it’s this government plus Brexit”, adding: “It’s like they’re going to go and shoot your dog and you’ve handed them the gun.”
Mr Lynch denied being “an ardent Brexiteer” – but suggested that he backed Brexit because it would boost the chances of re-nationalising Britain’s railways.
“You can indeed nationalise public sector services, which you cannot do inside the European Union,” said the union leader, claiming that Brussels insisted on “liberalisation and competition” in public services.
Challenged Mr O’Brien that he had prioritised “the nationalisation of the railways above everything else”, the RMT chief said re-nationalisation was “a constitutional matter” and said the UK “should be able to set its own laws”.
The LBC host asked Mr Lynch: “So you did realise that you were jeopardising potentially holiday pay, data protection rights, collective consultation, protection for pregnant workers, protection of part-time and fixed-term workers?”
The RMT leader responded: “But all laws derived from the European Union have the opportunity to be amended now,” adding that he would campaign against the bonfire of EU laws.
Earlier this week a poll for The Independent showed that nearly two-thirds of Britons (65 per cent) now support another referendum on re-joining the EU, with less than a quarter of voters opposed.
Asked if his union would still back Brexit if there was a second referendum on EU membership, Mr Lynch said: “We’d have to think about that. If that was what was on the ballot sheet, we’d consider the position on the ballot sheet.”
It comes as it emerged that the government has handed a £200,000 contract to a disaster relief charity to help drivers struck in lengthy queues at the Port of Dover during 2023, it has emerged.
The RE:ACT charity will hand our food and water to motorists and lorry drivers if they are hampered by the major standstills seen in 2022, linked to post-Brexit problems.