Labour vows to fight for environmentally friendly Brexit


Labour has vowed to fight any attempts to weaken European Union-imposed environmental laws after Brexit.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer will demand that all existing EU green laws are put into a new Act of Parliament, saying it would then be harder for future governments to U-turn on them.

Environmentalists have expressed concerns that leaving the EU will allow the climate-sceptic wing of the Conservative party to bring about a “bonfire” of green regulations, since more than 70 per cent of environmental safeguarding is regulated by the European Parliament.

In a speech to Labour environmentalists, Sir Keir will call for stronger protections for EU law than those proposed in the Government’s Great Repeal Bill plan.

He will say: “A hard Brexit – removed from the single market and outside of common regulations and minimum standards – could be hugely damaging for our environment, our climate and our wider politics and society.

“Labour will fight for a Brexit deal that puts the economy, jobs and living standards first and makes sure there is no watering down of key environmental protections or standards.

“We will call for all existing EU environmental laws to be put into primary legislation through a new Act of Parliament.

“This would make it far harder for future governments to weaken environmental legislation.

“And it would enshrine EU minimum standards in UK law.”

The Government’s plan for a Great Repeal Bill will convert existing EU law into domestic law “wherever practical”, yet the process could weaken environmental standards because green laws may be transferred to secondary legislation rather than a full Act of Parliament.

Sir Keir will add: “We should make the case for more progressive, more ambitious domestic environmental policy too. Not to match EU standards but to go beyond them.”

A report by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) in October said there was an urgent need for action and that targets to reduce carbon emissions “must continue to be met after the UK has left the EU”.

The CCC warned that a failure to switch to an energy efficient and green economy could cause economic problems, as British companies would struggle to sell their products in Europe.

Fears that the UK will not retain needed environmental protections after Brexit have been encouraged by a series of Conservative U-turns on green policy.

Having once championed itself as the “greenest government ever”, the Conservatives have now slashed subsidies for onshore wind and solar power; scrapped the zero carbon homes standard; ended an incentive for home insulation; and reversed its promise to exclude national parks from fracking.

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