Guest Blog – To protect the environment, the UK must stay in the EU by Stephen Tindale

tindale_dec14_highres-1418209671Stephen Tindale (@STindale) is a Research Fellow at the Centre for European Reform ( His policy brief on the green benefits of Britain’s EU membership is at

Europe will be an issue in May’s General Election. Nigel Farage will make sure of that. Whatever you think of UKIP’s policy proposals, (I think they’re appalling), we have to accept that Farage is better on TV and more charismatic than any other party leader. So 2015 will be the first time since 1974 that Europe has been a significant general election issue.

It wasn’t in 1983, despite the Labour manifesto saying it would take the UK out. I went canvassing for the SDP that year – I’d joined them because they wanted to stay in Europe (and because Shirley Williams was inspirational). Voters were interested in the economy and the Falklands, and Margaret Thatcher was being quite moderate (by her standards) on the issue of Brussels. Michael Foot’s choice of coats was a higher political issue than European membership was. I joined Labour in 1986, after Neil Kinnock had made them pro-European. In the 1992 campaign I worked for Labour HQ: my job was to attend the Tory and Lib Dem press conferences. The Tory internecine war on Europe was in full swing behind the scenes, but John Major successfully kept the lid on it during the campaign. Even Paddy Ashdown didn’t mention Europe often: presumably pollsters had told him that there were no votes in being pro-Brussels.

Green issues also haven’t been an electoral issue in the past. Unfortunately, they’ll be largely absent again this year. The ‘Green surge’ already looks like it’s past its peak. Natalie Bennett and Caroline Lucas are effective and quite impressive – though wrong on key energy issues in my view. The Greens’ popularity has more to do with them picking up protest support from the Lib Dems than it does with increase public attention to environmental issues. The Green Party of England and Wales is not a big fan of the EU; the Scottish Greens are a bit more enthusiastic. Greens favour an in/out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. Lucas says that the EU”must urgently change direction, away from an obsessive focus on competition and free trade and towards placing genuine co-operation and environmental sustainability at its heart”.

So voters in England can choose between three parties calling for an in/out referendum: the Greens; the Tories, who have moved from “vote blue, go green” to ‘cut the green crap’; and UKIP, who deny climate change and hate wind farms almost as much as they hate Eurocrats. Or they can chose the Lib Dems, who say that any referendum held to decide whether to transfer more power to Brussels (as the UK’s 2011 European Union Act requires it must be) should be an in/out referendum. Or Labour, which has said that it would retain the 2011 ‘referendum lock’, but not made clear whether it would regard a referendum as in/out. The SNP and Plaid Cymru’s line on an EU referendum is that each part of the UK should be given a veto over whether the UK leaves – they don’t want a referendum unless the 2011 Act requires there to be on. This referendum lock is not likely to be relevant during the next UK parliament; Europe’s leaders have more pressing issues than treaty change to deal with.

So, if you want an in/out referendum, vote UKIP, Tory or Green. But if you think that climate policy and environmental protection are higher priorities, vote Labour or Lib Dem. Because most of the UK’s green policies come from Brussels, not Westminster. Outside the EU, the UK could theoretically become a new Norway, with very high environmental standards. Pigs could also fly. Environmentalism has been a constant theme in Norwegian politics for over a quarter of a century (despite Norway’s large oil and gas sectors). Prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland chaired the commission which produced ‘Our Common Future’ in 1987. Kjell Magne Bondevik stood down from the premiership in 2000 because he refused to accept his coalition partner’s demand for a new gas power. No British prime minister would consider resigning the premiership over an environmental issue – regarded as second order by British politicians and the media. In reality, the UK outside the EU would return to being the dirty man of Europe.

EU membership has not been entirely positive for the UK environment. The common agricultural policy (CAP) and common fisheries policy (CFP) are environmentally destructive as well as economically wasteful. Nevertheless, UK membership has delivered substantial green benefits. Since Britain’s accession, policies to protect or improve air quality have emanated from Brussels, not London. The concept of BATNEEC (best available techniques not entailing excessive costs) has been used in EU directives to regulate air pollution since 1984, and water and soil pollution since 1996. The 1988 Large Combustion Plants Directive regulates the emission of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide and will also require the closure of several UK coal-fired power stations over the next decade – as long as we’re still in the EU. Catalytic converters, which reduce carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, have been mandatory in Europe on petrol vehicles since 1992, and on diesel vehicles since 2008. As a result of these European measures, air quality in Britain has improved. Emissions of sulphur dioxide in the UK fell by 89 per cent between 1990 and 2010; emissions of nitrogen oxides by 62 per cent. Air in most British cities is not clean enough to meet the EU standards or, more importantly, to protect human health: air pollution causes 29,000 premature deaths in the UK each year. But the air would be much dirtier, and the death toll much higher, without the Brussels bureaucrats.

Bathing water would be much dirtier too. Successive UK governments sought to use every loophole in the water directives, and allowed the discharge of untreated sewage into the sea until 1998, longer than any other European country. The water directives have delivered major benefits to wildlife in Britain. In the 1950s, the river Thames was biologically dead, with no fish or mammals, due to sewage in the lower reaches (around London) and agricultural pollution in the upper reaches. Today there are many fish throughout its length, and seals and dolphins swim up to London. The 1979 Wild Birds Directive and 1992 Habitats Directive have led to the establishment of a Europe-wide network of protected sites, called Natura 2000. The UK has established many onshore protected sites, though it has been slow to establish offshore sites.

The EU has been regulating chemicals since the 1960s. However, before 2007 there was a major flaw in European chemicals policy. Chemicals which had been on the market before relevant legislation was adopted (which for most substances meant 1981) could continue to be sold, without any testing. New chemicals had to be tested to ensure that they were safe for humans and the environment. This was an obvious barrier to innovation. Over 30,000 chemicals – 90 per cent of those being used in 2007 – had been in use since before 1981. So no one knew what health impacts they might have. The substances were in products such as electronic equipment or paints and cleaners, but also in products for which the public would not expect or accept untested chemicals, such as children’s pyjamas.

Tony Blair used the two UK presidencies of the EU which occurred during his premiership (1998 and 2005) to push for better regulation – which for once he understood actually meant better regulation rather than deregulation. In 2007, the EU adopted the Regulation on Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of CHemicals’ (REACH). This is based on a sensible approach: ‘no data, no market’. Chemicals that have not been properly assessed, or which fail the tests, must be withdrawn from the market. REACH is expensive, but the savings will be greater than the costs. A third of all occupational disease is caused by exposure to chemicals. BASF, Europe’s biggest chemicals company, has dropped its opposition to the law. Its vice president for chemical regulations, Ronald Drews, said in September 2012 that REACH had cost BASF over €500 million, but that “at the end, it is worth the money”.

Last year I heard Ed Davey give an impassioned defence of REACH. He argued – rightly – that before REACH, parents could unknowingly buy toxic, flammable pyjamas for their children. Yesterday I went to a conference organised by David Campbell Bannerman, a Tory MEP who has published Time to Jump, outlining what he says is ‘a positive vision of a Britain outside the EU’.

In his speech he condemned the excessive red tape from Brussels, giving three examples: the Working Time Directive, the Large Combustion Plants Directive, REACH. So I asked him whether he agreed with Davey that REACH has some strengths, including the banning of dangerous pyjamas for kids. In reply he said that the UK parliament could ban these. Yes, it could – but probably would not. As argued above, the Large Combustion Plants Directive has been central to cleaning up the air. The impact of the Working Time Directive on private companies has been limited. It has had more impact in the public sector, including in the NHS. I’m not convinced that I’d like a surgeon who had worked more than 48 hours that week to operate on one of my kids. But the Working Time Directive should be discussed and, if necessary, reformed. That’s how the EU works – everything is constantly discussed, and sometimes reformed. This directive has become a bugbear for the Europhobes (sceptics is an inaccurate word for them, just as it is for those who deny climate change). It is not worth leaving the EU over the Working Time Directive – unless you are a free marketer with an ideological objection to any regulation of anything.

Many speakers at yesterday’s conference criticised the “ideological” enthusiasm of people like me for all things emanating from Brussels. They clearly want people to believe that their objections to the EU are based on pure analysis and evidence-based policy making. I don’t think the British electorate is that stupid. But I’m an optimist (a useful attribute for someone who works on climate change all week, then for ‘relaxation’ goes to White Hart Lane to support Spurs). I may be wrong. If I am, and if the UK leaves the EU, conservation and anti-pollution policies will pay a heavy price.

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22 Replies to “Guest Blog – To protect the environment, the UK must stay in the EU by Stephen Tindale”

  1. An informative and fairly concise piece. Thank you. Haven't the Habitats Directive (and the other regs) been incorporated into British law though, so that they wouldn't automatically lapse if we left? Not that I am necessarily saying we should leave.

    1. They are indeed now part of UK law and would remain so until such a time as a government passed new legislation to repeal or replace them. With politicians referring to such legislation as 'gold-plated', 'green crap' and 'excessive red tape' I'd think that there is every possibility that a Europhobe government that had just won a referendum to get us out of the EU would waste little time sweeping out as much of the legislation it sees as an imposition from Brussels as it possibly could.

      1. Thanks for clarifying Jonathan, and everyone else. I am all for top protection, and fact we should aim for 50 per cent of our country to be wild land, as per EO Wilson. Unfortunately I am sure you are right Jonathan, much of it would soon be repealed. "Consume less, have fewer children."

        1. 50% wild land in the UK? Tell that to someone in a foodbank queue or Tony Juniper, who in his new book, 'What Nature can do for Britain' pushes for more self sufficiency in food production: review here in Countryfile Mag

          Please do try and step into the real world.
          Ps Did I mention India and China? No, another day...

          1. Making space for wild land is precisely why we need to consume less and have fewer children. That is true whether it's wild land here or abroad. Even eating less meat would make a massive difference to the area of land needed to sustain us. And by 'us' I mean the UK and the population of other countries.
            re. the foodbank reference: if you ask the likes of Oxfam (and I'm sure it applies to the UK too) it's a question of 'food access' not 'food availability' i.e. there is food around it's just people haven't enough money to buy it.

  2. Thank you very much Stephen for an informative blog. I'm genuinely undecided which way I would vote in any referendum (the election is another matter) and for once we have some calmer reasoning for me to consider.

    Since the case for Europe has been set out so well above; my personal case against boils down to the endemic inefficiency and downright fraud (no accounts signed off for decades now) rampant bureacracy (anyone involved in an EU grant will know how stifling that can be) and immigration.

    Unchecked immigration at current levels means that even moderately well paid professionals like me are being priced out of the rental market (I earn a little more than the UK average wage) and if things continue I'll have to go back to living in a shared house like I did in my student days 30 years ago. Yes I know there are many other factors, and many other things that could and should be done, but the bottom line is that housing demand greatly outstrips supply. It means that an awful lot more countryside needs to be concreted over just for England to stand still in housing provision. That's a huge environmental negative.

    It can't be good for Poland etc to have all their brightest and best come here. And personally I'd rather be a lot more welcoming to people fleeing places like Syria in seach of safety and rather less so to EU migrants just looking for better paid work.

    I can't see an environmentally sustainable future for England with nearly a quarter of a million new people to house, transport, employ, feed, and water every year, from immigration alone (and then plus the adding needs arising from smaller households and other internal pressures). I note that last time I asked how that could be done on this blog there was a lot of anti UKIP rhetoric but no-one really addressed the scale of the specific issue. The challenge remains.

    Finally, as a student of history, I regard UKIP as an existential threat to a free, democratic, and inclusive UK. If we leave Europe the entire rationale for their existence disappears, and we no longer have to worry about their darker underbelly. I do sometimes wonder if ex-Labour UKIP supporters know what else UKIP stands for.

    But then again I'm a Francophile, an internationalist, and a liberal at heart.

    Difficult choices.

    1. Bill,

      Another question you need to consider (and answer) is what will the UK do with the approximate 2.2 million of its own citizens who currently live and work/ retired in other EU member states (reference: They would no longer have the automatic right to stay there. They could be repatriated back to the UK and for countries like Spain, Greece, France and Portugal, there could be immense internal political pressure to do so (all those Brits taking up local jobs and straining local services).

      So we could trade an immigration figure of 250K for a number x9 that...potentially all arriving/ returning in a space of a matter of months after we leave the EU. UKIP don't talk about this; nor to other Europhobes.

      1. Sorry Richard, but the election is one thing, the referendum another. If the UK did leave it would not be doing so under a UKIP government. Frankly I find the idea that if the Uk left there would then be an immediate Europe-wide edict of mutual expulsion to be absurd, not least because it would be in absolutely no-one's interests (not even UKIPs, and certainly not mainland Europe's).

        No-one would want a Midnight's Children massacre at Dover Docks, with current EU residents in the Uk being expelled in retaliation passing ex pat Brits being shipped back in cattle trucks. Sorry but your whole scenario just seems like extreme scaremongering to me. How long do you think any government would last if it sent Border Guards in riot gear round the wards to round up all the NHS nurses without UK passports and disappear them to Calais? You think Spain needs a shed load more empty properties and 1m fewer relatively wealthy expat consumers? That's just daft. Everyone would start from where we are, not 1065 or even 1945.

        Incidentally, don't forget the year on year numbers are net - emmigration of Brits from the UK and non UK nationals returning home are already accounted for. For what it's worth, the rest of the EU has a lot more nationals living here than the UK does in mainland Europe.

        The ref you quote says 1.8m Brits live in the rest of the EU, not 2.2 million by the way.

        1. Bill,

          I have re-checked the original reference on my Android Phone and this quite clearly states 2 million; however on my laptop it is a slightly different article which states, as you say, 1.8 million. I cannot explain the different versions but the numbers are largely irrelevant at this scale. Nevertheless, I have searched for the original reference which is here ( and if you scroll down to column WA26 on the 4th February 2014 (or search for Britons Living and Working Abroad; Questions asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay); the answer given in the House of Lords is approximately 2 million.

          Why do you find the concept of between 1.8 and 2 million UK citizens being required to leave Spain, France etc absurd? Whilst there is no precedent (yet) of a member state leaving the EU, the concept of freedom of movement is a founding principle of the EU. Thus, it is not unreasonable to suppose that a member state leaving the EU could, in theory and in practice result in any of their expatriates being required, subject to negotiations (or not), leaving that member state as they would no longer have the right of abode.

          Returning to your assertion that I am scaremongering; I clearly stated that this was a possibility (i.e. could happen; NOT would happen). I doubt, as you describe, that UK Border Guards would round-up NHS staff, Gestapo fashion.

          Do I think that Spain would refrain from expelling approximately 1 million UK citizens on the grounds of empty properties and risk losing the expenditure of wealthy (or otherwise) British expats? Of course I don't think any European Government would do such a thing - it would be too dangerous politically and absurd to think it would happen...currently. I say currently because we are living in precarious times. To illustrate this, if I asked you 18 months, or even 12 months ago whether Russia would invade and annexe a part of a sovereign, independent state, contrary to international law, would you have called this absurd? And now Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are potentially facing similar threats. Am I being absurd to suggest that by the end of 2015, Russia has destabalised these sovereign Baltic states given what has happened, and is happening in Ukraine? The point I make is that whilst Spain is unlikely to evict 1 million UK citizens in the event of the UK leaving the EU as things stand today; internal politics and the rise of right, or left-wing (as in Spain's case) national parties may change the absurd to the potentially realistic. The conditions are there. Half of Spain's youth (working age under 25) are unemployed, with no prospect of employment in the foreseeable future. The left-wing Podemos party has risen from 0 to almost 350K members in a matter of months and secured 8% of the Spanish vote in the European elections and now has 5 MEPs; not bad for an organisation, let alone a national political party, that didn't exist before January 2014. There is huge dissatisfaction in the current political system which many parties and individual are seeking to exploit; Podemos in Spain, Jobbik in Hungary, SYRIZA in Greece and UKIP in the UK. Anyone that has studied European politics in the first half of the 20th Century will think, hmmm, 1920s and 1930s Germany. Similar environment - global recession, growing dissatisfaction with the political classes, the rise of enigmatic individuals, annexing of sovereign states and...well we all know what happened next.

          I am not saying that Podemos, if they formed the next Spanish Government (they too have elections in 2015), would expel 1 million UK citizens; but with European and world politics in flux, is anything absurd anymore? What happens, if Podemos wins the next Spanish election and fails to reduce youth unemployment by any meaningful measure? Who would be the scapegoat then? Is it absurd to imagine, in this highly charged and febrile atmosphere that the '1 million foreigners sponging off the Spanish state' could become the scapegoat, especially if they no longer have the right of abode as the UK has left the EU? Suddenly, the nightmare vision of 1 million British expats being expelled goes from absurd to mainstream political discussion. It is not a huge leap. It's happened before. Am I being absurd?

          1. I think, with respect Richard, you're making a slightly different point now, ie that the economic situation in Europe is akin to the 1930s with similar attendent dangers and instability. I wouldn't disagree at all - the danger of underestimating an upstart nationalist party led by a charismatic leader with the common touch has unpleasant parrellels closer to home.

            The question is what to do about it.

            As far as Spain goes - have you been there? I was there very recently, and the beatification of genocide is remorseless and disturbing. They'll get rid of the Moors again long before they turn on the British ex pats, and there are plenty of North African migrants to pick on. Expelling the Moors is the foundation myth of Spain - their King Arthur or Robin Hood - except that it isn't a myth. All over Europe the anti immigrant rhetoric is focussed almost exclusively on immigrants from outside Western Europe. Even UKIP goes on about "illegal immigration" as much as it does about EU workers here legally.

            If in hard times you think Europe would want well over 2m extra newly unemployed sent back and no more money sent "home" in exchange for booting out the Brits - well I have to disagree. Regardless of the politics of the party in power.

            Over time, a good proportion of existing working ex pats might return, just as over time a good proportion of current non UK citizens might go back to Mainland Europe as their contracts end and only those with skills the UK (or the EU) needs were given new work permits. But this would take a decade or more, not months.

            So we agree that it would not happen in the first few months, as you originally suggested? And regardless of details, we agree that there are more non UK EU citizens here then there are British people living in the rest of the EU? And you haven't challenged the large net annual influx to the UK. So returning to my original point, if there were to be a complete two way mutual repatriation over time - which I doubt - the Uk still ends up with a nearly instant end of population growth followed by a moderate net loss that would take the pressure off housing supply.

            There are of course many reasons why this could still be a bad thing regardless, but in terms of housing numbers it doesn't appear that you have an argument even in your own terms?

  3. M. Perry,

    The EU Directives are transposed in to UK law by the enabling Act (European Communities Act 1972) via Regulations (e.g. The Conservation of Habitat and Species Regulations 2010). Regulations are a statutory instrument that allow Ministers to pass legislation without the need to go through Parliament where it would be superfluous to do so.

    So if the UK left the EU, the 1972 Act will be repealed and all the associated Regulations with it. The result will be as described by Stephen. So for example, Fineshade Wood would be less likely to be saved, there would be no meaningful statutory protection for clean water, seas, soils, public health, air or children's pyjamas; tyre safety on vehicles and so on. The UK would return to pre-1970s levels of statutory protection. So maternity or paternity leave, employment protection, education, equality, human rights, financial controls and regulation, business and economic regulation etc could all disappear or be watered down according to the whims of any subsequent Government. Anything that has been driven by the EU and requires member states to follow suit would disappear from statute unless it has been separately enacted by its own Act, therefore circumventing the repeal of the 1972 Act. However, even in this scenario, the protection is weakened. Being a member of the EU requires that all our statutes (eg Employments Right Act 1996, which enables maternity and paternity leave) has to conform to EU law. If we left the EU, there would be no impediment to dilute or delete existing rights which we all enjoy. If a future Government decided to abolish paternity or maternity leave, it could chose to do so. Currently, it can't as the EU acts as a 'legislative brake'.

    So, leaving the EU may 'save' us £millions/ day as UKIP like to promote. But it will cost us too. Severely in financial terms, immeasurably in other important ways. All based on a falsehood that we are being 'swamped' by immigrants.

    So will we leave? Well, I suspect we will. Not because the electorate will make an informed decision but because they will believe the style, not the substance of the argument. I reckon we will be 'out' by 2020.


  4. I totally agree that to protect the Environment it is essential that the UK remains in the EU. As a former environmental manager for a large consultancy, I will say that the largest single factor that results from the EU is that it porvides "a level playing field". The number of times I used to hear companies or farmers or other commercial organisations saying we would like to improve our impact on the environment but we can't do it because it would put us at a disadvantage with our competition. (Many times I thought this type of stance was a just an excuse). However all this nonsense is swepted away when one has EU wide legislation.
    Another reason for the UK staying within the EU is that it has much to contribute to the organisation. The Environment and conservation of our wildlife operates Europe wide, we cannot draw a line at Dover and expect our environment and wildlife to prosper in isolation from the rest of Europe.
    I am afraid the UK is currently caught up in a mentality entirely focused on the "what's in it for me" approach. We need more of the John F Kennedy approach "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country".

  5. Thanks Stephen/Mark
    Thought provoking blog. I was never really 'in to ' politics until a few years ago, and actually encouraged by blogs on this site to be more proactive. I'll admit (to howls of ridicule no doubt!) that I voted Conservative at the last election, purely on the back of the manifesto pledge to be the 'greenest government' ever - that is because for me the environment and wildlife conservation is important. This lie, a total failure, of the Government to live up to a manifesto commitment also contributed to trying to hold our elected representatives to account. I regularly write letters to my MP, and always get a reply. I regularly sign petitions that get copied to my MP, and again nearly always get a reply. Now I might not necessarily agree with my MPs replies - although I do on the subject of pubs and beer duty!!, but I do feel that my voice is being heard. We need more people to take an active role in writing to politicians and Councillors etc, because if we don't our voice will never be heard. It is sad, but nature conservation and wildlife, and the wider environment, is still is a low priority for politicians and indeed the electorate. So blogs such as this by Stephen, making environmental links to the big current issues that do seem to engage people are timely. A recent opinion poll reported in the Guardian showed that climate, environment, nature conservation did not appear on a list of key issues that concerned the electorate. On BBC Question Time, not a single question on wildlife since the turn of the year, and only one on the broader environment (related to fracking). Labour have made some manifesto commitments but these are ok, not Earth shattering. the Green Party (of which I am now a member) have reasonable policies as you would expect, but lets be honest, are unlikely to take too many seats at the next election.
    So if the environment is important to you in a UK election, we seem to be left with voting on the basis of a parties approach to Europe. It seems that might be our least worst option to getting SOME environmental commitment from a future Government.

    1. Rob - thanks very much for that comment. And no derision at all - at th3 last general election, I would say that the Conservative manifesto sounded more convincing on the subject of wildlife (with a major exception of badger culling) than the Lib Dems (which did the trendy thing of spreading the environment through all other parts of the manifesto) and Labour (which wasn't very good at all).

  6. 2015 - International Year of Soils. Both this administration and the last one, which was the other lot, as members of a blocking minority, kicked the EU draft Soils Framework Directive into the long grass. Muchly at the behest of the NFU, who claim that we already have a sufficiently effective system of self-appraisal and box-ticking to protect the asset that underpins everything else.

    2015 - Year of General Election when we will elect another cheek of the same arse, possibly controlled by a fundamental minority

  7. Picking up on Bil Jenman's 'Environmentally Sustainable Future'. It doesn't really make sense to even consider voting for any political party that doesn't offer us that does it.

    So let's work through the manifestos, see how many are ofering us that and then decide to which to pledge our support. Let's see now. Count them with me....

    Hmm.... Oh dear. Guess how many fingers I'm holding up.

    At least there is still time to influence your preferred choice to be better. Or at least there's lots of scope for improvement. Lots and lots of scope.

    And did you hear about the latest Defra budget cuts? It's looking like the evidence strategy will soon be delivered by a one-eyed man from his armchair in Bootle (on a part-time basis).

  8. Well, put your faith in the old parties and the usual way of doing things. Put your faith in the EU, put your faith in Labour, put your faith in the Conservatives, put your faith in free trade and out of control capitalism. But don't expect to see anything different happen. Caroline Lucas is quoted above as saying that the EU ”must urgently change direction, away from an obsessive focus on competition and free trade and towards placing genuine co-operation and environmental sustainability at its heart”.

    So why not vote Green and start supporting a party that has policies that will benefit the nation and its environment, and both our mental and physical well-being?

    Don't waste your time on the mainstream - look at the last 40-50 years if you want to know where voting Labour or Conservative will get you.

  9. "Outside the EU, the UK could theoretically become a new Norway, with very high environmental standards." Are you kidding? Their parliament have just voted to re-instate spraying lead shot all over their countryside.

  10. Very nice to see a positive case made for EU membership. I have no doubt the advances made on air and water quality and energy efficiency would never have happened in this country without the EU and the UK used to be a respected and influential voice until the present government decided isolationism was a better policy.

    I also agree that outside the EU a lot of habitat protection and other gren measures would be designated under the 'gold plated or green crap' category. I can just see treasury officials rubbing their hands in anticipation

    The 2 million odd UK citizens living in the EU are also an interesting issue. It is likely they will have to pay through the nose for a residency permit and possibly differential property and health charges, something Spain has long expressed an interest in doing and which of course is illegal under EU law. I don't think the sceptics have thought any of this through.


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