RMT leader Mick Cash hit out to oppose the TUC General Council statement on Brexit saying that it was a staging post to try to lever the trade union movement in behind the campaign for what is a de facto second referendum.
Cash said that the campaign for a people’s vote hands the divided Tory government a get out of jail card at a point when they are teetering on the brink of collapse.
He told Congress: ‘The Tories will absolutely love it if we support this statement.
‘It gives them the get out of jail card they are crying out for. ‘It lets them off the hook because the issue becomes not what sort of Brexit we want but whether there should be a second referendum. ‘It lets them off the hook because what they are terrified of is not a people’s vote but a general election.
‘Congress, the only vote that matters is a general election. ‘We should be calling for one thing and one thing only, an urgent general election that returns a socialist Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.
‘We don’t need a people’s vote, we need a national vote that will sweep this rotten Tory government out of power.’ In the morning General Secretary Francis O’Grady told Congress that PM May was ‘holding the country to ransom and no one voted for that’.
She added: ‘So today I am giving the Prime Minister fair warning. I am serving notice that if her deal doesn’t deliver for working people, if it doesn’t protect jobs, rights at work and peace in Northern Ireland, then the TUC will throw our weight behind the call for a vote on the terms of the deal.’
The TUC statement was moved by Steve Turner on Brexit. He stated: ‘It demands MPs reject a disastrous no deal and send a defeated, broken government back to the country in a general election. ‘It demands we extend Article 50 to give an incoming Labour government time and opportunity to negotiate a deal for the many, not the few.
‘And if the politicians can’t do that, then we demand we go back to the people so they can vote on the deal on offer. It’s our deal, our future, not theirs.
‘Congress this is not a call for a second referendum … a place some outside our movement want to push us … but a vote on the terms of our departure if parliament fails us.’ The statement was carried overwhelmingly with the RMT delegation voting against.