North East Tory MPs who signed a letter to Theresa May asking for regulatory autonomy after Brexit are damaging the region’s prospects after we leave the EU, Labour MEPs for the North East have said.
Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, and Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Conservative MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, signed the letter which calls for a hard Brexit and contains harmful policies for both Teesside and Northumberland.
Jude Kirton-Darling, Labour MEP for the North East, commented:
“The infamous letter is worrying on many different levels, but one issue in particular stands out and that is the MPs’ call for the UK to turn to regulatory autonomy so the government can then have the ability to change British laws and rules at will.
“For example this could easily imply that the UK will abolish REACH, an EU common standard for the manufacture, shipment and use of chemicals. To come out of REACH blindly would mean that all the products from Wilton, Seal Sands and Billingham for instance, would suddenly become non-compliant and would have to go through a lengthy testing process in the European country where the exports are headed. My guess is that most buyers would simply drop their UK suppliers and go for suppliers in the remaining EU states if this scenario becomes our Brexit reality.”
Paul Brannen, Labour MEP for the North East, added:
“Turning to regulatory autonomy could also pose a risk to the cross-border parts of our Food Standards Agency. At the moment farmers in our region adhere to extremely high standards, ensuring that our food is safe and of good quality. Slashing regulations could put livelihoods at risk and damage our chances of continuing to export our produce from the UK and the North East to the rest of the European Union.
“This is why it is imperative that we retain our membership of the Single Market after Brexit, as the main role of this system is to harmonise regulations across the bloc so that all member states can easily trade between them. If what we have to offer is low on standards and thus low on quality, the EU27 won’t be lining up to agree trade deals with us after we leave.”