Local campaigners from St Albans for Europe held a street stall in St Albans market on October 7th. As it coincided with the Food and Drink Festival and Sustainability Saturday, the particular focus was the impact of Brexit on food, hospitality and the environment.
St Albans for Europe Chair, Fiona McAndrew, said “We think it is important people are made aware of the impact Brexit is already having on our day-to-day lives – even before we’ve actually left the EU. Food prices have already risen, in response to the drop in the value of the pound. The food sector is heavily reliant on labour from EU countries – farmers struggle to recruit British workers to do seasonal work, so if freedom of movement is curtailed, the Government will have serious questions to answer about who is going to pick the fruit and vegetables our farmers grow. Farmers currently receive large subsidies from the EU, which will need to be replaced and 80% of our food exports go to the EU, so leaving the Single Market is going to hit us hard. We also don’t want to discover that in order to secure new trade deals we will have to lower food safety standards – there’s already talk of having to accept chlorine-washed chicken from the US, something which is currently banned under EU-wide rules.
We collected hundreds of new signatures for European Movement’s petition calling on the Government to publish 50 publicly-funded studies it conducted into the impact that Brexit will have across various sectors of the UK’s economy. http://www.europeanmovement.co.uk/news_release_the_studies. ”
David Horrocks, an environmental health consultant who specialises in EU law joined campaigners on the stall to answer specific questions on the environment. David said “People need to realise just how catastrophic Brexit will be for all aspects of the environment. EU environmental laws have led to cleaner air, cleaner beaches and wildlife protection in the UK, as well as business opportunities in emerging green technologies. As it currently stands, the government’s EU Withdrawal Bill will grant ministers the powers to amend or even revoke great swathes of EU environmental laws that the UK government has hitherto been obliged to incorporate into UK law, without recourse to parliamentary scrutiny. This could set the UK back 40 years to the days when we were unflatteringly known as the ‘Dirty Old Man of Europe.’” ”
More generally, we also spoke to local residents about the EU Withdrawal Bill – we are encouraging people to write to their MP to ask them to support amendments which restore Parliamentary control, requiring the government to seek Parliament's approval of the final deal before we leave. Further information on this can be found on the Represent Us campaign website.
This coming Saturday (14th October), St Albans for Europe is joining in with European Movement’s next Action Day by supporting a Rally for Europe in Cambridge. Our local meet up to travel to the march is 12 noon at Hatfield train station. For further details see here.