"Today in the House of Commons, the Conservative Government are trying to force through a shameless power-grab, running roughshod over Parliament. Members of Parliament will have a chance to vote on the Retained EU Law Bill - and Liberal Democrat MPs will be opposing it.
The Conservatives want to drastically change Britain’s laws and protections at breakneck speed, without proper scrutiny. It poses huge risks for people and businesses all across the UK.
To make matters worse, this is an undemocratic power grab.
It’s the latest dogmatic act from the Conservatives. They erected barriers to trade with our neighbours, entangling small businesses, farmers and fishers in red tape.
Now, they are set to rip up thousands of vital regulations, many of which were the result of hard work by Liberal Democrat MEPs, without even giving Parliament the opportunity to properly debate and scrutinise these changes. Ministers won’t even have to lift a finger - the termination of those rights and protections at the end of next year will become the default.
The result? From removing crucial protections for workers’ rights to inviting an increase in sewage dumps from water companies as environmental laws are flushed down the drain, this Bill is an unmitigated disaster for our environment, our economy and our democracy.
This is unacceptable.
That’s why we will vote against the Bill today. Our MPs are working to ensure that Parliament is not silenced, including by supporting an amendment with other MPs - including Conservatives - which will force the Government to make clear exactly which protections and rights face being axed.
Then, if the Bill continues its passage to the House of Lords, Liberal Democrat peers will continue to fight against it and its undemocratic measures there.
We are standing up for democracy, whilst the Government tries to steamroller it.
And with the economy on a cliff edge thanks to Conservative incompetence, businesses don’t need more barriers to trade, or more uncertainty. Yet this Bill does precisely that - making life harder for businesses and making investment in the UK more uncertain at the worst possible moment.
Drastically changing Britain’s regulations and protections will effectively create yet more problems for British businesses who have already been negatively impacted by the Conservatives’ decision to erect barriers to trade with our neighbours and largest trading partner.
This Bill could dismantle our crucial environmental protections too.
The RSPB has described the potential revocation of environmental laws in the Defra policy space as “an attack on nature”, expressing particular concern about the regulation of air and water quality and prevention of pollution.
With the concerning news this week that Thames Water are planning to draw off tens of millions of litres of water a day from the Thames and replace it with treated effluent from nearby sewage works, the Government should be holding water companies to account with stronger regulations, not scrapping them.
Last year, Liberal Democrat research discovered that sewage was dumped on Blue Flag beaches 1,700 times, lasting 15,000 hours. These companies are threatening the safety of our environment, and they are being allowed to get away with it.
We will not stand for it, but we will stand up for your rights, your protections and our environment.
As we move towards vital Local Elections in some parts of England, and with a General Election on the horizon, it is important that we are able to elect even more Liberal Democrats across the country to stand up against these kinds of assaults on our democracy, just as we are doing today in trying to fight this Bill."
Sarah Olney MP