Brexit commotion mustn’t spell bad news for the environment

Sandy Luk By: Sandy Luk
Date posted: 17 January 2019

There have been some momentous political goings on in the UK – just in case you haven’t noticed! Whether you’re concerned, intrigued or even bored of Brexit, one thing that all pundits are agreed upon is uncertainty. Ask any politician, government official or journalist and none will give a roadmap for next steps beyond “likelihoods” and “scenarios”. But one thing’s for sure, after the biggest political defeat in history followed by a rapid “confidence” vote, we are entering uncharted territory in the UK Parliament and it’s very hard to predict what will happen next.

Now, as a charity which works with MPs, (and AMs, MSPs and MLAs) of all political persuasions to achieve policy change, MCS is bound to remain utterly neutral, party politically speaking, in our viewpoints. We have to avoid being seen to support or oppose the views of any party, whether they make up the government/s of the day, or sit in opposition. At a crucial time like this, where it can be hard to separate out matters of governance (with a small g) from what could be seen as a view of one political party as distinct from another, we need to be particularly careful.

But there is one critical aspect of all this political uncertainty that we can and must talk about, and keep on saying, and never let go of: Environmental protection must not just be maintained, but improved, whatever scenario results.

This means that, however negotiations, decisions and actions shape up in the next few weeks, protection measures - for our land, air and sea, and the wildlife it supports, and the benefits it gives us - must be maintained at the same level (at least) as we currently have, to then improve upon. Present uncertainty must not lead to a rushed throwing together of laws for future management of the environment and a regression in standards.

Yes, an environment bill is in train, but, with all of the doubts and vagueness about where we are heading, is it getting the proper scrutiny needed? Will it be as comprehensive as the set of laws and instruments it replaces?

MCS is working closely on fisheries legislation and is a core part of the expert team of Greener UK partners and environment Link groups. Together we are making every effort to make sure that – whatever deal or no deal situation results – our environment doesn’t suffer as a result.