UK Environmental And Labour Standards Will 'Diverge' After Brexit, Boris Johnson Tells EU

Prime Minister demands Irish backstop is dropped in letter to Brussels chief Donald Tusk.

The UK will “diverge” from the EU on environment and labour regulations after Brexit, Boris Johnson has formally made clear as the Prime Minister outlined detailled demands for leaving the bloc.

Writing to EU Council President Donald Tusk, Johnson underlined his opposition to the Irish backstop element of the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

The PM indicated his government’s “highest priority” remains to leave with a deal, but this could not happen if the backstop was not dropped.

Instead, he called for with a commitment to “flexible and creative solutions” to avoid a hard Irish border before the end of the two-year transition period.

But the letter also included confirmation of the UK setting its own environment, product and labour standards, which may alarm activists and unions over protections being watered down.

The letter states: “Although we will remain committed to world-class environment, product and labour standards, the laws and regulations to deliver them will potentially diverge from those of the EU.

“That is the point of our exit and our ability to enable this is central to our future democracy.”

Of the backstop, Johnson wrote: “It is anti-democratic and inconsistent with the sovereignty of the UK as a state.

“The backstop locks the UK, potentially indefinitely, into an international treaty which will bind us into a customs union and which applies large areas of single market legislation in Northern Ireland.

“The treaty provides no sovereign means of exiting unilaterally and affords the people of Northern Ireland no influence over the legislation which applies to them.”

Johnson said he is committed to ensuring there is no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland.

He proposed “flexible and creative solutions to the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland”.

He added: “I propose that the backstop should be replaced with a commitment to put in place such arrangements as far as possible before the end of the transition period, as part of the future relationship.

“I also recognise that there will need to be a degree of confidence about what would happen if these arrangements were not all fully in place at the end of that period.

“We are ready to look constructively and flexibly at what commitments might help, consistent of course with the principles set out in this letter.”

Johnson acknowledged that “time is very short” but said: “The UK is ready to move quickly, and, given the degree of common ground already, I hope that the EU will be ready to do likewise.”


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