Houses of Parliament

Ahead of the 'meaningful vote': what does the draft Withdrawal Agreement mean for the environment?

The ‘meaningful vote’ on the Withdrawal Agreement is due to be held on Tuesday 15 January. Ahead of the vote, Greener UK has produced an updated analysis on how the agreement and political statement on the future relationship measure up to our four Brexit benchmarks (October 2018). These are: higher standards, effective enforcement, systems for cross-border co-operation, and environmentally sound trade policy.

Since the publication of a similar briefing in November 2018, the government has published its draft environment bill, which was meant to show how important gaps in governance created by Brexit would be filled. The government claims that these gaps will be plugged by a new Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) and the enshrining of fundamental environmental principles in domestic law.

The publication of the environment bill was a critical moment. Yet, regrettably, the plans fell short of the level of protection provided by the current arrangements. The draft bill contradicts the government’s repeated reassurances that environmental protections will not be weakened after Brexit, and raises questions about its commitment to leave the environment in a better state.

We hope this new briefing, which also looks at existing protections under the EU and how a 'no deal' Brexit measures up against the benchmarks, will encourage members of parliament and the wider public to consider how environmental protections can be maintained and strengthened during the Brexit process.

We point towards a number of vital questions about the government’s proposed approach that so far remain unanswered.

Our updated analysis is here.