MPs who have taken control of parliament to stop Boris Johnson from forcing a no-deal Brexit have been urged by the leader of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to “hold their nerve” until after 31 October.
Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s general secretary, called upon parliament not to budge until an extension to article 50 has been secured.
It follows a standoff between parliament and the government over Johnson’s plan to leave the EU on 31 October, come what may.
Speaking at the first day of the TUC’s annual congress, O’Grady said MPs must force an extension before relinquishing control of the Brexit process.
“My advice to MPs is this: when you’ve got your opponent on the ropes – don’t let them off. Hold your nerve until 31 October and call Boris Johnson’s bluff.
“So once we have that extension locked down, then let’s have that general election on our terms – not his. Boris Johnson is not above the law, he doesn’t have a divine right to rule,” she said.
O’Grady added that Johnson was motivated by political power and fulfilling a hard-right agenda.
“We know what kind of man Boris Johnson is, and the people he gets to do his dirty work. We don’t trust him. He would sell livelihoods down the river because all he cares about is political power,” she said.
O’Grady said events in the coming days and months would shape jobs and living standards for a generation, while leaving without a deal would be a “disaster” for workers, especially those in the NHS, civil service, the food industry and ports.
“A no-deal Brexit means higher fuel prices and a more expensive weekly shop, it will destroy good British jobs, [mean] less money for the NHS and medicine shortages for cancer patients,” she added.
“For hard-right Tories, Brexit has always been part of a bigger ideological project. A no-deal Brexit would pave the way for a low-tax, low-regulation Britain that works for hedge fund managers but offers nothing for working people,” O’Grady added.
The TUC will debate their own Brexit policy on Sunday afternoon, with some of the biggest unions still split over the direction of the Labour movement.
While many unions would like the TUC to push for a second referendum in which they campaigned to remain, others, including the fire brigades’ union, the communication workers’ union and Unite’s leader Len McCluskey have argued against this.
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour’s leader, is due to address the congress on Tuesday, followed by the shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer’s appearance on Wednesday.