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‘Anti-democratic’ REUL Bill passes through Commons

The controversial Retained EU Law (REUL) Bill has passed through the House of Commons, despite the concerns of environmentalists, business leaders, legal experts and trade unions.

297 MPs voted in favour of the bill, while 238 were opposed, passing through the legislation before it moves on to be considered in the House of Lords.

The bill could see thousands of EU regulations written into UK law ripped up, with upwards of 2,400 laws at risk. Another 1,400 have also recently been unearthed by the National Archives.

These encompass everything from the use of chemicals, habitat protection and food standards to data protection and employment law. Critics doubt the government’s ability to properly consider and make a decision on these regulations by the end of 2023, when they will be automatically discarded.

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Tweeting her reaction to news of the bill’s passing, Green MP Caroline Lucas said: ‘And so this reckless, costly & anti-democratic bill, which takes a wrecking ball to several thousand social, environmental & safety protections, passes Commons 297 to 238. Mind-boggling to see so many Tory MPs meekly vote to take power away from themselves & hand to Govt.’

Recent analysis from the Wildlife and Countryside Link found the government’s plans to revoke thousands of EU laws could cost the UK £82bn over 30 years.

Data revealed that the environmental damage caused by weaker regulations and protections could have a huge impact on health, air and water quality and lead to a loss of business opportunities.

Less air quality improvement could cost the country £44.9bn, while weaker water quality standards could result in a bill of £20.6bn.

Dr Richard Benwell, CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: ‘Prevention of air and water pollution, protection of precious wildlife and habitats, precautions against hazardous chemical use – they are all put at risk by the Retained EU Law Bill. If long-standing protection for nature is removed or weakened, the economic consequences could run into the billions.

‘Add to this the costs of years of uncertainty while half the environmental statute book is up in the air and thousands of hours of civil service time spent reviewing laws simply because of where they came from. All together, the costs of this economic and environmental wrecking ball bill could be astronomical at a time when the UK – and our environment – can least afford it.’

Photo by Call Me Fred

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