Britain could slash environmental and safety standards 'a very long way' after Brexit, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg says

The MP said standards that were 'good enough for India' could be good enough for the UK

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 06 December 2016 17:55 GMT
Jacob Rees-Mogg says Britain could slash regulation standards

Britain could slash environmental and safety regulations on imported products after it leaves the EU, a Tory MP has suggested.

Jacob Rees-Mogg said regulations that were “good enough for India” could be good enough for the UK – arguing that the UK could go “a very long way” to rolling back high EU standards.

The idea, floated at a hearing of the Treasury Select Committee, was immediately rejected by an economist, who said such a move would likely cause “quite considerable” difficulties.

“We could, if we wanted, accept emissions standards from India, America, and Europe. There’d be no contradiction with that,” Mr Rees-Mogg said.

“We could say, if it’s good enough in India, it’s good enough for here. There’s nothing to stop that.

“We could take it a very long way. American emission standards are fine – probably in some cases higher.

“I accept that we’re not going to allow dangerous toys to come in from China, we don’t want to see those kind of risks. But there’s a very long way you can go.”

The MP's comments came in the context of a discussion about trade deals with other countries following Brexit.

Jonathan Portes, a research fellow of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research however said the approach could cause “complications”.

“If we simply said we would not impose any regulatory constraints on any goods coming to this country I think the risk of negative spill-over that would reduce productivity as well as many other things that we care about would be very high,” he said.

“We could certainly go a fair way but I think we would find the complications and the difficulties that mounted up would quickly become quite considerable.”

The Government has said all EU regulations will be enshrined into British law by a Great Repeal Bill. Changes can then be made on a case-by-case basis after Brexit.

Ministers have declined to back a Labour bill that would enshrine workers' rights in to EU law, though Theresa May has said the rules protecting workers will be safe.

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