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The Labour Party was accused of having no trust in the British people and democracy after Paul Blomfield MP demanded reassurances about environmental standards after Brexit. Michael Gove insisted the UK is committed to protecting the environment and pointed out at his record as Secretary of State to demonstrate the importance the Government will pay to the issue. Mr Gove said: “We are totally committed on reassurances on workers’ rights and environment protections.
“In a previous life, I was Secretary of State for the Environment and as a result of the endeavours we took with the Environment Bill and the creation of the Office of Environmental Protection will mean that the UK will be a world leader in upholding environmental standards.
“We’ll be upholding them on a higher level than the European Union does. What we cannot accept however is the European Union seeking to tie the United Kingdom to its law and its jurisdiction.
“We are an independent country, people voted in a referendum and in a general election for us to reclaim our sovereignty.
“And it is a pity that the Labour Party thinks that the British people, when they have the freedom to choose, to have lower standards.
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“That is a lack of faith in this country and a lack of faith in democracy.”
The response was the result of Mr Blomfeld questioning whether the UK Government would be prepared to sign up to strict standards in order to strike a Brexit trade deal with the European Union.
The Labour MP said: “The Government said repeatedly, and I’ve heard the minister say it many times, that they want a Canada-style deal.
“The minister will know that a Canada-style deal with the EU contains many commitments on the level-playing field, with both sides signing up to an entire chapter on workers’ rights and two chapters on environmental standards.
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“So could he try a straight answer to the question on whether the Government would be prepared to sign up to similar commitments in its deal with the EU?”
The pledge came as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced Brussels will launch a legal challenge against the UK for breach of international law.
Ms von der Leyen said the proceeding is the result of an alleged breach of the Withdrawal Agreement Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed up to last year.
The Commission boss said: “We had invited our British friends to the problematic parts of their draft Internal Market Bill by the end of September.
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“This draft Bill is by its very nature a breach of the obligation of good faith laid down in the Withdrawal Agreement.
“Moreover if it is adopted as it is it will be in full contradiction to the protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.
“The deadline lapsed yesterday. The problematic provisions have not been removed. Therefore this morning the Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to the UK Government.
“This is the first step in an infringement procedure.”
The Internal Market Bill cleared the Commons in the third reading stage on Tuesday, when a majority of MPs backed the legislation.
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