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Working people must not pay the price for the vote to Leave

Report type
Policy proposal
Issue date

A national action plan to protect the economy, jobs and workers’ rights. In this short paper, the TUC proposes specific actions which can be taken immediately or in the coming weeks.

After the vote to leave the European Union, the UK is in uncharted waters both politically and economically. The TUC did not seek this outcome, but accepts the decision of the British people. Yet with so many still so scarred by the effects of the 2008
financial crisis, working people and their communities must not pay the price – again – of economic slowdown and uncertainty.

In this interim period before a new Conservative leader begins the process of leaving the EU, the government must act decisively to minimise the negative impact on the economy of extreme uncertainty. The governor of the Bank of England’s statement and actions on the morning after the referendum illustrate how decisive action can help protect financial markets. But there are limits to how much can be expected of monetary action. The chancellor’s statement on Monday 27 June was also welcome, but the reaction of the markets demonstrates the need for a bolder strategy. And of course, the TUC does not agree with the chancellor that the fundamentals of the UK economy are strong: one need only point to the concentration of wealth, jobs and investment in London and the south-east and the decades-long decline in manufacturing to see that the UK is exposed to significant risk compounded by the economic uncertainty of a vote to leave the EU.

In this short paper, the TUC proposes specific actions which can be taken immediately or in the coming weeks, with regard to:

  • protecting jobs, apprenticeships and livelihoods
  • industrial planning, public investment in infrastructure and financial support for economic activity
  • using government spending rather than monetary policy to stimulate demand, while still defending sterling
  • protections for working people’s employment rights, pay and pensions, and the role of trade unions.

Of course, in the longer term, the UK needs a plan to retain access to the single market. More widely, the government must acknowledge and seek to heal the wounds evident in the country – those of the enduring crisis in living standards, of the financial crisis and of the uncontrolled impacts of globalisation. And our political establishment needs to reflect on the causes of the anger and disaffection of many voters. These topics are not those of this paper – although in the coming months the TUC will return to these themes.

Instead, this paper seeks only to be an immediate response to the looming impact of the vote to leave the EU on the lives, jobs and wages of working people in the UK.

Download Working people must not pay the price for the vote to Leave (pdf)

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