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A ‘no deal’ Brexit would be catastrophic for the environment. No one can predict where Britain might end up on Brexit in the months ahead but one thing is plain, simple, and clear: the prospect of the UK leaving the EU in March 2019 without a deal has changed from being a scenario you wouldn’t put money on just a short while ago, to suddenly being a very real prospect. More to the point, leading Brexiteers – not least environment secretary Michael Gove – are arguing that Britain needs to “step up” its preparations to enable it to walk away without a deal in just eight months’ time.
The Withdrawal Bill was supposed to cut and paste all aspects of European environmental legislation, but it missed some of the most important bits, Defra is nowhere near ready to leave without a deal, and we don’t yet have even the most basic enforcement mechanisms in place. Much has been said and written about just how enormously difficult and disruptive a cliff edge no deal will be for business and the economy. Leaked Government papers are warning that the UK would suffer shortages of food, fuels and medicines within a fortnight. Just ponder that awhile: food shortages. Businesses like Airbus, BMW and Jaguar Land Rover have talked about leaving the country. Much less has been said about what might happen to our environment and health in a no deal scenario, something that should be of grave concern to all given that around 80 percent of our environmental laws have been developed in an EU context.