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First he blocked a law against upskirting – now this Tory MP is coming for your rights at work

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Sir Christopher Chope’s shameless and cynical use of bankbench legislation to attack workers’ rights cannot be allowed to succeed
Offical portrait of Chris Chope MP
Credit: Chris McAndrew

Today we learned that the Tory MP who single-handedly blocked legislation to make ‘upskirting’ a specific criminal offence is now trying to use his own private member’s bill to attack workers’ rights.

Last month, Sir Christopher Chope provoked outrage across the political spectrum for objecting to the second reading of the Voyeurism (Offences) Bill, which would have made it illegal to take intrusive photos of someone without their knowledge or consent.

Amid the furore, it was reported that Sir Christopher objected to private member’s bills on a point of principle as a bad way to reform the law.

Yet just two weeks later it appears that the very same MP has tabled his own private member’s bill in a bid to scrap the Working Time Directive (WTD) – the EU law that underpins UK workers’ rights to reasonable hours, breaks and holidays.

Your rights in his sights

Chope’s Working Time (Regulations) Bill will seek to “make provision for the expiration of the Working Time Regulations 1998” and “to provide for regulations governing working time”.

The full details of the Bill are still unknown while it is prepared for publication, but we already know that Sir Christopher has form on this issue.

Scrapping the WTD has been a long-term ambition for hardline Brexiteers like him, who want to give bosses even more power over workers.

In fact, he tables a private member’s bill along these lines every two or three years. His last attempt during the 2015/2016 Parliament – the Working Time Directive (Limitation Bill) – would have:

  • reversed all ECJ cases (including those that said that bonuses had to count towards holiday pay), resulting in less holiday pay
  • taken medical professionals out of the directive, resulting in more over-worked doctors
  • allowed individuals to opt-out of paid holidays and the health and safety limits on nightwork

So it’s safe to assume that Chope’s latest attempt to scrap the WTD will follow similar lines.

If he ever succeeds, millions of workers could lose rights to paid holidays, be forced to work more than 48 hours a week and lose guaranteed lunch and rest breaks.

Double standards

This shameless attempt to use the private bill procedure to tear up all the hard-won rights that come from the EU is typical of the double standards we’ve grown used to from Brexiteers.

The ‘upskirting’ debacle showed that Chope has no respect for private member’s bills tabled by other MPs, yet he’s happy to use them himself to attack workers’ rights.

And as Conservative MP Anna Soubry pointed out today, many Tory Brexiteers have spent their careers rebelling against their own party and yet attack those who do the same to prevent a hard Brexit.

It’s high time the Prime Minister re-asserted her authority over the hard-Brexit extremists in her party.

She promised that workers’ rights would be protected after Brexit, but Brexiteers like Chope won’t rest till they’ve unpicked every last one.

Unless she reins them in – and soon – our hard-won rights will be sacrificed on the altar of a hard Tory Brexit.

Hard Brexit ministers plan to force the PM to scrap the Working Time Directive. Hands off our holidays!
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