Will Britain remain Green?

Orbital's politics columnist, Jasmine Cox, reflects on the prime minister's hopes for a 'Green Brexit'.

EU environmental laws are maintained at an impeccably high standard, and with over 80% of Britons in favour of these levels of protection, it is alarming that the repercussions of Brexit jeopardize the guarantee that Britain will maintain these standards.

The surfacing of these fears was evident in Theresa May’s speech last month, whereby, she announced her ambitious 25 year plan to reduce the waste of plastic: ‘Brexit will not mean a lowering of environmental standards’. […] ‘We will use the opportunity Brexit provides to strengthen and enhance our environmental protections – not to weaken them’. Alongside this, environmental campaigners have voiced their concerns that propositions such as this demand legislation, which echoes the sentiment of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who wants to see action taken now after his party saw the plan as a ‘cynical attempt at rebranding the Tories’ image’.

the Conservatives have a record of ‘failure and broken promises’ when it comes to environmental issues

The Labour environment spokeswoman, Sue Hayman, states that the Conservatives have a record of ‘failure and broken promises’ when it comes to environmental issues, which resonates with Greenpeace’s comment that the announcements on plastic were ‘a missed opportunity’, as the plan does not factor in the deposit-return-scheme which is proven to be efficient. Although Michael Gove, the Conservative secretary of state for the environment, spoke of ‘waste’ in his foreword to the report several times, he gives no mention to a plan or policy to change the government’s movement on recycling. In 2015, recycling rates fell enormously for the first time in over a decade due to the fact that local authorities suffered an austerity budget cut, which became detrimental to the intended diversion from landfill waste.

As cuts can be seen across a variety of sectors, especially education and health, particularly affecting those with disabilities and of low income, I am also in no position to trust our current government to uphold what they promise. With a party that allows their Chancellor of Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, to make delusional comments such as claiming that the fall of productivity in the UK is partly to do with the employment of disabled people, it is difficult for me to see such an austere government looking beyond their own benefits and privileges.

So, with May making such a large claim as to leave the ‘natural world’ in a better state than when they came in to power, the Tories’ have a lot of work cut out for them in order to prove that Brexit will bring a positive change to Britain’s environment.