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One in ten Brits wants to scrap EU regulations on environment, food and jobs after Brexit, poll reveals



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Exclusive: The YouGov polling was carried out by anti-Brexit group Best for Britain

Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 3:55 pm

Only one in 10 voters wants the UK to abandon European regulations on the environment, labour market and food safety, according to a poll.

The Government has promised to embrace “regulatory divergence” as part of the post-Brexit economic regime and is resisting EU attempts to maintain a “level playing field” indefinitely.

But a large majority of the public told YouGov they wanted Britain to keep the same rules as now or make them stricter. The findings come as Boris Johnson prepares to open dual trade talks with the EU and the US next week.

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The poll, commissioned by anti-Brexit group Best for Britain, questioned 1,800 British adults on their views about future regulatory standards on jobs, food and product safety, and the environment.

Protection calls

Farmers will need to adopt green habits to be eligible for government support (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)

Only 11 per cent said they want more relaxed employment regulations, with 43 per cent comfortable with the status quo and 32 per cent saying standards should be tightened. On food safety – a key issue in US trade talks, with American farmers keen to export chicken and beef treated with techniques currently banned in Britain – 6 per cent want to loosen standards while 37 per cent are keen to make them tougher.

57 per cent of respondents said the UK should apply stricter environmental standards after Brexit, with 7 per cent calling for them to be relaxed. Conservative voters and Leave supporters are not in favour of reducing standards in any of the policy areas in the poll.

Best for Britain boss Naomi Smith told i: “What this study shows is that Britain overwhelmingly rejects looser rules as we leave the EU. Across all regions, age groups and political affiliations, people agree that standards should be kept or even strengthened, not rowed back on.

“This is a powerful rejection of the idea that Britain should undercut its neighbours on regulation to do with things like food hygiene and protecting the environment.”

Talks clash

The EU has demanded a “level playing field” as part of post-Brexit trade talks – which would bar the UK from lowering existing regulatory standards and force it to update its rules over time with “reference to” those set in Brussels. The British Government has rejected the idea but insists it has no plans to reduce regulatory protections.

Victoria Hewson of the free-market IEA think-tank said the polling was “misleading”, adding: “Food and product standards were nothing to do with level playing field commitments sought by the EU, until the brazen last minute inclusion of food safety under the heading of environmental protection in the mandate published earlier this week.

“If the poll had asked ‘Should the British Government or the EU decide on our laws?’ the answer to their questions may well have been different. The real red herring is the EU’s insistence that its rules and standards must be adhered to to prevent unfair competition.”

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