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Working hard or hardly a working week

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The Democratic Unionist party has accused Theresa May of preparing to renege on her promise not to allow for a border in the Irish sea as party of a Brexit transition. This is particularly bad news for Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, who has only just got to grips with the concept of a border between the UK and France, which is relatively beginners’ stuff when it comes to this kind of thing.

Labour, meanwhile, is looking at the future of work – including the possibility of cutting the working week from five days to four. This is something that Scott Corfe, chief economist at the Social Market Foundation, has examined for our latest magazine. He argues that with the onset of automation, we could be on the cusp of a ‘leisure society’ that increases the potential to reduce hours while not reducing wages.

It is an interesting concept, but there are a couple of reasons to be hesitant. The TUC backed the idea earlier this year, but general secretary Frances O’Grady’s support was to aim to bring it through by the end of the century, which is a much slower introductory period than many of its most vocal proponents envision. The other point of contention could be in the wisdom of prioritising this over solving other connected issues, such as insecure work in the gig economy, where a shift to a four-day week may be meaningless. For a full debate on this topic, listen to one of the live specials of the Progressive Britain podcast, featuring Alison McGovern and Wes Streeting.

-Conor Pope, deputy editor

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Conor Pope

is online features editor at Four Four Two Magazine

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