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  • 3 weeks later...


Brexit: 'Fears confirmed' over rights at work, says Labour

Labour has said leaked government papers "confirm its worst fears" about plans to dilute workers' rights after Brexit.

The documents, revealed by the Financial Times, say that the drafting of commitments on workers' rights and the environment in the Brexit deal "leaves room for interpretation".

Labour said it is a "blueprint" for ending "vital rights and protections".

But Business Minister Kwesi Kwarteng said the claims are "way exaggerated".

The leaked paper suggests that the government believes there is considerable scope to diverge from the EU on employment rights and other regulations after Brexit, despite its pledge to maintain a "level playing field" in Boris Johnson's latest deal.

In Mr Johnson's Brexit deal, references to a level playing field - the idea that the UK and EU countries keep their rules and standards close to prevent one trying to gain a competitive advantage - were removed from the legally binding withdrawal agreement.

Instead, they were put into the non-binding "political declaration", which describes the potential future relationship between the UK and EU.

According to the FT, the leaked document says the UK's and EU's interpretation of the "level playing field" pledge will be "very different", and the text represents a "much more open starting point" for negotiations over a future trade deal.

Purportedly drafted by the Brexit department, the paper appears to contradict promises by the prime minister on Wednesday that the UK is committed to the "highest possible standards" for the environment and rights at work.

It comes as EU leaders consider their decision on a new deadline for Brexit, having agreed to an extension in principle after the UK government admitted it could not meet its 31 October deadline.

The document will fuel fears among some in the EU that Boris Johnson is planning to shape Britain into a Singapore-style economy, with low taxes and light regulation, which could compete against Europe by potentially downgrading rights.

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