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PM’s ‘half-arsed bluster and waffle’ over workers’ rights criticised by Starmer

·2 min read

Boris Johnson has been accused of delivering “half-arsed bluster and waffle” in response to calls to better protect British workers following the P&O Ferries scandal.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer hit out at Mr Johnson as he repeatedly raised concerns at Prime Minister’s Questions, including over the treatment of the 800 seafarers sacked by P&O.

He also described the Prime Minister as “all mouth no trousers” in legislating to ban fire and rehire, which involves making workers redundant before giving them their jobs back with worse terms and conditions.

Responding, Mr Johnson told the Commons: “The most notable practitioners of fire and rehire are of course the Labour Party themselves.

“But he may be interested to know we will be vindicating the rights of British workers, UK employees under UK law, but the law that P&O, the company themselves, are allegedly relying on was introduced as a result of EU directives.”

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (House of Commons/PA)

Sir Keir highlighted that Mr Johnson ordered Tory MPs to abstain on a Labour motion to ban fire and rehire, adding sacked P&O workers did not want new jobs but their old jobs back.

He said: “They don’t want a Prime Minister hoisting the white flag, they want him to fight for their livelihoods – 82,000 seafarers in this country.”

Sir Keir said workers he has spoken to are worried they could be next if P&O is allowed to “get away with it”, adding: “Why does the Prime Minister think that they will take a crumb of comfort from his half-arsed bluster and waffle today?”

Mr Johnson said: “P&O plainly aren’t going to get away with it any more than any other company that treat its employees in that scandalous way.”

After he acknowledged the UK went into its first lockdown two years ago, Mr Johnson said: “Thanks to the Chancellor, who protected the economy, who protected jobs, who protected companies, we’ve now been able to come out faster and more effectively than any other comparable economy.

“We have unemployment back down to 3.9%, we have 600,000 more people on the payroll and the best assurance we can give workers around the country is that the economy is now bigger than it was before the pandemic began, and we will continue to get the big calls right.”

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