Panorama of the Quiraing mountain range

Green benchmarks for Brexit

Greener UK has published a set of ‘Green benchmarks for Brexit’. These are a series of measures against which to judge the government’s success in its pledge to protect and enhance environmental standards in Brexit.

They include:

  • no backsliding on current standards;
  • effective methods of enforcing environmental law;
  • high standards in trade deals, minimising the UK’s global footprint.

To support the launch of the benchmarks, Greener UK chair Shaun Spiers wrote a letter to The Times (15 October 2018), calling on the cabinet to support the prime minister in securing a UK-EU deal built on continuing co-operation and high standards.

The letter, below, was written after rumours of growing support within the cabinet for a 'Canada-style' trade deal, which could see the UK adopt weaker chemical regulation and lower food and environmental standards post-Brexit.

The Times logo

Shaun Spiers, Letter to The Times, 15 October 2018


The current debate within the cabinet about the outcome of Brexit represents a crucial moment for the British countryside and wider environment.

There is now a real danger that the UK will leave the EU without a deal or consciously pivot towards countries with lower environmental standards. Powerful voices are calling for a Canada-style trade deal, but the only clear articulation of what this would mean comes from the Institute of Economic Affairs. This kind of vision for Brexit discards the precautionary principle. It advocates weaker regulation of chemicals and lower standards of food safety and animal welfare. It would be a disaster for the environment.

We have an opportunity to build upon the environmental gains we have made over 40 years of EU membership and go farther, as ministers have promised to do through their “green Brexit”. The cabinet must now support the prime minister in committing to continued co-operation with the EU on environmental matters and a mutual commitment not to water down standards. If it does not, we will be facing a decidedly dirty Brexit, for which no one voted and which has no public support.

Shaun Spiers

Chair, Greener UK