David Davis says he’s clueless as to why there are fears about Brexit sparking a “Mad Max-style world borrowed from dystopian fiction.”
In a speech in Vienna, he said: “These fears about a race to the bottom are based on nothing, not history, not intention, nor interest.”
The Brexit Secretary Davis might want to forget his own history on the day that polls show that only 14% want to see the Working Time Directive scrapped or weakened – but we don’t.
David Davis spent the best part of two decades trying to stop British workers benefiting from the Working Time Directive.
Last time he was in Government, as Europe Minister between 1994 and 1997, he was at the forefront of the the Tories’ campaign to overturn the law giving workers paid breaks and holiday.
The Government went to the European Court of Justice in 1996 to try and annul the legislation – they lost and taxpayers footed the legal bill.
The Tories then tried to change European treaties to secure an opt out from the legisltation. As David Davis explained to Parliament in 1996:
“It is not our intention that the working time directive will stay as a part of the acquis communautaire (EU law). We have stated clearly that there are two requirements for the Intergovernmental Conference to make progress: one is that the directive be disapplied to the United Kingdom; the other is that the loophole created by the directive in the social chapter opt-out be removed.”
They didn’t succeed. But Davis didn’t give up.
He put a pledge to opt out of the entire social chapter, which also includes equal pay laws and maternity rights, at the heart of his failed 2005 Tory leadership campaign.
And he cited his failed campaign to stop the Working Time Directive as evidence of the need to leave the EU in a 2012 speech:
That’s probably where those fears come from, David…