UK could diverge from EU on regulations and workers' rights, leaked documents show
Documents shared by ministers this week indicate that the government is planning to deviate from some EU environmental regulations and workers’ right, despite its pledge of a “level playing field”.
According to the Financial Times, papers drafted by the Department for Exiting the European Union (Dexeu) suggest the UK was open to significant divergence from EU standards.
Boris Johnson told the Commons this week that the UK was committed to “the highest possible standards” on both sets of standards.
But the leaked document suggests that the commitment in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) to EU regulations and workers’ rights “leaves room for interpretation”.
It also said that the UK and EU’s “interpretation of these [level playing field] commitments will be very different” and that the text represented a “much more open starting point for future relationship negotiations”.
The document added that the government viewed binding commitments as “inappropriate”, and that negotiators “successfully resisted” the inclusion of such a commitment in the WAB.
Labour’s shadow Brexit minister, Jenny Chapman, told the Financial Times: “These documents confirm our worst fears. Boris Johnson’s Brexit is a blueprint for a deregulated economy, which will see vital rights and protections torn up.”
Earlier this year, Mr Johnson set out a vision of a post-Brexit UK as a low-tax, lightly regulated economy on the edge of Europe, while speaking in New York.
The deal he has negotiated allows the UK freedom to set its own regulatory standards once the transition period after Brexit is completed in approximately 2022.
Brussels, however, has warned the government that the chances of achieve a favourable trade deal are dependent on the UK upholding the EU’s rules.
Mr Johnson’s deal differs from Theresa May’s deal, in which the UK was legally bound to maintain EU regulatory standards in areas such as environment and workers’ rights.
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