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Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.
February 20, 2018

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Davis: UK will ‘continue to meet safety standards’ post-Brexit

David Davis has insisted Brexit will not lead to worse health and safety standards or plunge the UK into “a Mad Max-style world borrowed from dystopian fiction”.

Speaking today to an audience in Vienna, the Brexit secretary hit back at critics who claimed leaving the EU would lead to a lowering of regulatory standards.

Instead, Mr Davis insisted the UK’s plan for life outside of the EU is a “race to the top in global standards”.

“We will continue our track record of meeting high standards, after we leave the European Union,” said Mr Davis.

‘Safest in Europe’

“On safety at work, our industrial workers are the safest in Europe,” added Mr Davis. “The fatality incidence rate, as it is delicately known, is the lowest in Europe, thanks, not to EU legislation, but to British laws passed in the early and mid-70s.”

The Brexit secretary added Britain was one of the first member states to introduce the right to flexible working hours for parents and carers in 2003 and that plans are in the pipeline for a “new, independent body that would continue to uphold environmental standards”.

“Now, I know that for one reason or another there are some people who have sought to question that these are really our intentions,” he added.

‘Mad Max’ style future

“They fear that Brexit could lead to an Anglo-Saxon race to the bottom. With Britain plunged into a Mad-Max style world borrowed from dystopian fiction.

“These fears about a race to the bottom are based on nothing, not our history, not our intentions, nor our national interest.

“Frankly, the competitive challenge we in the UK and the European Union will face from the rest of the world — where 90 percent of growth in markets will come from — will not be met by a reduction in standards,” said Mr Davis.

‘Not worth paper written on’

But Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, said promises by Mr Davis to protect worker’s rights and environmental standards after Brexit “isn’t worth the paper it’s written on”.

“The truth is there are many in Theresa May’s government who want to use Brexit as an excuse to drive down standards and weaken fundamental rights,” commented Mr Starmer.

“Labour rejects this approach,” he added. “We want a close future relationship with the EU based on our values of equality. That includes maintain and extending rights, standards and protections.”



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Adam Scorcese
Adam Scorcese
6 years ago

Excuse me if I’m being ignorant, but isn’t UK safety legislation just that “UK safety legislation”? Since the introduction of the 6-pack in the early ’90s all EU helath, safety and welfare directives have been translated and passed by successive UK parliaments onto the UK statute books, and enforced by the UK, all under the umbrella of The Health & Safety at Work Act. Unless I’m very much mistaken the departure of the UK from the EU does not change the UK’s legislative structure, ergo, standards remain the same. There won’t be less red tape by virtue of leaving the… Read more »

6 years ago

If anyone believes for 1 minute that this insidious government have any intention of protecting workers safety or employment rights then they need to take the wool from their eyes. The Tories have continually voted against any of the aforementioned, Davies and his cohorts speak with forked tongues.

Colin Rider CFIOSH, EuroSHM, CMSE
Colin Rider CFIOSH, EuroSHM, CMSE
6 years ago

Davis needs to look at his figures. Yes there was a steep reduction in fatal accidents from 1975 onwards, but there was still around 400 fatals in 1986/87 (Around 250 less than 1974). With today’s annual toll of around 140, that is a 60% reduction since the beginning of the EU involvement. Additionally, the HSE website reports a 58% reduction in non fatal accidents since 1986/87. One more thing. When I became Safety Officer in 1983, we had the Electricity at Work Regulations 1908 (Plus special edition of 1946), the Horizontal Milling Machines Regulations of 1927 and the Work at… Read more »