The collapse of Carillion in January shows the terrible, human effects of business failure. It threatened the jobs and pensions of more than 43,000 employees. Just today 377 Carillion employees were made redundant and sadly many of those affected are from the West Midlands.
There is a small glimmer of hope that a significant proportion of workers maybe taken on by the companies taking over the Carillion contracts. However, it’s vital that the 669-bed Midland Metropolitan Hospital Carillion was responsible for constructing is not delayed. I spoke about Carillion workers in plenary in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. I hope that this crisis acts as a wake up call for the Conservative government. Public contracts should not be exploited by private companies for private profit, at the expense of workers’ security and pensions.
We are only one month into the New Year and already the government has been plunged into deeper crisis over Brexit. The leaked impact reports, compiled by the government’s own economists, confirmed what we already knew about the effects of Brexit. However, the government’s complete dismissal of its own civil servants’ work is newly worrying.
The West Midlands region (Comprising: Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, West Midlands, Shropshire, Staffordshire) is expected to suffer the most from Brexit, due to its impact on our huge manufacturing and export sector. The Department for Exiting the EU predicts a soft Brexit would cost the West Midlands 2.5 per cent of GDP over the next 15 years. A hard Brexit, with a Canada-style free trade deal would shrink our region’s GDP by eight per cent. While a no-deal scenario, with the UK left to trade on WTO terms, would slash 13 per cent from the West Midlands’s GDP. What about trade deals with countries outside of the EU? The report expects that a future trade deal with the US would add just 0.2% to GDP, and treaties with other non-EU countries would add a somewhere between 0.1 and 0.4%.
The government’s reaction to these shocking statistics has so far been to ignore them. This is really concerning. Brexit is the single most consequential policy any government has pursued since the second world war. We therefore need a government that takes a fact-based approach, rather than one which acts on bluster. The Labour Party has been clear that it will not sacrifice jobs for Brexit and I agree that maintaining opportunity and employment always has to be the priority.