Nope, our rights aren’t guaranteed

by Hugo Dixon | 14.11.2019

Boris Johnson has falsely claimed that his withdrawal agreement will protect workers’ rights, environmental standards and consumer protections.

Claim 1:  Workers rights will “never be inferior” to those in the EU. 

Boris Johnson, House of Commons

InFact: How can anybody believe this when the Prime Minister has removed a legally-binding commitment to precisely that from Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement? (Article 6 and Annexes 2 and 4).

Claim 2: The Withdrawal Agreement Bill means there can be “no regression” from the rights workers currently enjoy.

Boris Johnson, House of Commons

InFact: If the government wishes to pass legislation that would weaken rights, the relevant minister must merely say they are “unable to make a statement of non-regression.” Telling MPs that workers are going to lose their rights is very different from guaranteeing that they won’t. (See Withdrawal Agreement Bill, Schedule 5A, Part 1, Clause (1)(b)).

Claim 3: “If the EU decides that it wishes to introduce new legislation on social protection… there will be an amendable motion by which the government will give parliamentary time for the implementation of that measure.” 

Boris Johnson, House of Commons

InFact: If the government doesn’t want to copy new EU rights, it must merely make parliamentary time for MPs to say they approve. The motion isn’t amendable – and so MPs won’t be given time to force the government to follow suit. (Withdrawal Agreement Bill, Schedule 5A, Part 2, Clause 5(a)).

Claim 4: The Prime Minister gave a “commitment” to reinforce environmental standards, in response to a question over whether there would be a “clear non-regression clause, as we have on workers’ rights”. 

Boris Johnson, House of Commons

InFact: Even if Johnson keeps his promise, a commitment that copies the wording on workers’ rights won’t be worth much.

Claim 5: The Prime Minister also gave an “assurance” that consumer protection will be written into the Bill. 

Boris Johnson, House of Commons

InFact: Again, if it’s like the language on workers’ rights, that will be cold comfort.

The headline was updated on December 4

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