Amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill come back to the Lords today and while the media is focused upon giving the Commons a meaningful vote over the EU negotiations, a lot of other critical issues are at stake. Deleting the Henry 8th powers is crucial if Parliament wants to genuinely take back control of power from the executive. Retaining the charter of Human Rights would show that we intend to remain a progressive and democratic country.
But one of the most neglected areas of this debate about post Brexit UK is on environmental protections. It is good that as a result of the Lords’ amendment the environment has now got specific, but limited, protections written into the Withdrawal Bill. Sadly, the government hasn’t shifted enough, therefore the protections haven’t gone far enough. I’m working cross-party with Lords Krebs and others to ensure that our post-Brexit environmental regulator will be independent and have real legal powers to hold the Government to account on environmental protection.
One important part of the Lords’ environmental amendment would require the Government to ensure that we don’t lose any environmental protections as a result of Brexit. There are rumours that the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, actually supports our amendment but is being overruled by other Ministers in the Cabinet! I’m hoping that the Government will see sense and accept our amendments. The House of Lords has proved that they really care about the environment and the Government will see another defeat unless they come to a more sensible compromise with us.