Leaving the EU: State Aid, Public Ownership and Workers’ Rights — [Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:42 pm on 11th December 2018.

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Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education) 3:42 pm, 11th December 2018

I am not going to pre-judge what is taking place as we move towards a clear, definable free trade agreement with the European Union and the discussions that will happen after the political declaration. We have made that commitment, but actually we want to make sure that the United Kingdom has the ability to ensure that UK rights are clear, definable and stronger. They are already stronger than those in many European countries. We will continue to ensure that we have the reputation I mentioned: being the second best country in the EU for workplace wellbeing, behind only Sweden. It is important for our global reputation that we maintain that.

On the point about the EU workers council, if the EU withdrawal agreement is not approved we will still unilaterally protect workers’ rights in relation to European workers councils, as far as we can. However, to protect them fully, we require a deal with the EU, which sets the rules governing the establishment of a new European workers council. That is why I believe that the withdrawal agreement is so important to ensuring that we have no reduction in workers’ rights.

We will go further than the minimum labour market standards guaranteed in a withdrawal agreement. The Government will protect workers’ rights to ensure that they keep pace with changing labour markets. I hope the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich agrees that our approach on these vital issues will help secure the best possible deal for the UK as we leave the European Union.