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May in Brexit phone plea to unions

Good to talk: Theresa May PICTURE: REX

THERESA MAY picked up the phone to the leaders of Britain’s biggest unions yesterday, begging them to help get her Brexit deal approved by Parliament.

The prime minister called ‘Red’ Len McCluskey, of Unite, and Tim Roache, of the GMB, for the first time since she took office.

It came after a BBC poll of MPs showed the deal was on course to be rejected by more than 200 votes on Tuesday as Tory rebels join with Labour to oppose it.

Mrs May also made a bid to win over Labour MPs by promising to support an amendment to the deal that would protect workers’ rights after Brexit.

Mr Roache, whose union gave Labour £2.2million last year, said he was glad she had ‘finally picked up the phone’.

He added: ‘As you might expect, I was very clear about GMB’s position — the deal on the table isn’t good enough and non-binding assurances on workers’ rights won’t cut it.’

Mrs May argues her deal will protect jobs as leaving without one is expected to cause economic damage.

But Mr McCluskey, whose union has 1.3million members and is the largest Labour donor, has described the pact forged with the EU as a ‘shambles’.

There was no phone call for Frances O’Grady, of the TUC — the federation that 50 trade unions with 5.6million members are affiliated to.

Labour frontbencher Angela Rayner said Mrs May was making ‘a cynical bid to save her botched Brexit’, adding: ‘I wouldn’t trust the Tories one iota on employee protection.’ But the PM won approval from Labour’s John Mann, one of four MPs who put forward the amendment enshrining EU workers’ rights and environmental standards into British law after Brexit.

‘The government ought to be attempting to negotiate,’ he said. ‘Otherwise the prospect of no deal gets all the more real — no deal by accident.’

AN EX-MI6 chief and a former head of the armed forces claim the prime minister’s Brexit deal threatens national security. Sir Richard Dearlove and Field Marshal Lord Guthrie have written to all Tory party chairmen asking them to ensure their MPs vote against the ‘bad agreement’. The letter, leaked to Sky News, claims Theresa May’s plan ‘abrogates’ the state’s duty to protect its citizens’ security as it would ‘place control of aspects of our national security in foreign hands’. No.10 rejected the claims.