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Boris Johnson's isolationism will hinder coronavirus recovery effort, Labour says

Jon Stone
AFP via Getty

Boris Johnson's "go it alone bravado" on Brexit will make it harder for the UK to rebuild its economy after the coronavirus pandemic, Labour has said.

The opposition party has criticised government's decision to leave Eurofound, a respected EU employment agency that is studying the impact of coronavirus on jobs and the economy.

Andy McDonald, Labour's shadow employment right secretary, told The Independent the decision to disassociate from the agency "will undermine our ability to get to grips with the pandemic and its impact on our physical and mental health".

The government has previously said engagement with Eurofound “will be considered as part of the broader EU exit negotiations" and its work already covers Norway, a non-member state.

But it has since become clear that the decision to totally cut ties with the single market means Britain will no longer be able to participate in the agency's research and schemes.

The organisation's work on Covid-19 has already started, with a report published in April providing valuable data on the impact in member states. It is currently undertaking further detailed analysis about how a recovery could be structured.

The world economy is expected to enter a deep recession over the coming months because of the halt in economic activity caused by the pandemic and response.

The criticism comes after a similar row over whether the UK would participate in an EU medical equipment procurement scheme, with critics accusing Boris Johnson of "ideology".

Andy McDonald, Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Employment Rights and Protections, said: “If the UK is to effectively respond to the pandemic, we must understand the profound changes to how people live and work as well as the effectiveness of policies responding to the economic and social effects of the crisis.

“The decision to withdraw from Eurofound research smacks of the kind of go it alone bravado from Boris Johnson that will undermine our ability to get to grips with the pandemic and its impact on our physical and mental health. The Government has taken its eye off the ball again.”

Asked about the decision, a Government spokesperson said: “As the UK left the European Union on 31 January, it can no longer be a member of Eurofound.

"However, the UK will continue to have access to the research produced by Eurofound and will consider requests by the EU for support in its discussions, meetings and research.”

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