No Mad Max-like scenario post Brexit, says minister
Britain will not engage in "Mad Max-style" deregulation and easing of workers' rights and environmental standards once it leaves the European Union, the Brexit secretary said on Tuesday.
"We will continue our track record of meeting high standards after we leave the European Union," David Davis said in Vienna, and not a "an Anglo-Saxon race to the bottom".
Davis, 69, told business leaders in Austria, which will hold the EU presidency from July, that fears that Britain will plunge into a "Mad Max-style world borrowed from dystopian fiction" were "based on nothing".
He said that instead of loosening rules in order to gain a competitive advantage over the EU after Britain's scheduled departure in March 2019, it will engage in a "race to the top". This, Davis said, will also provide the trust needed between London and the EU to ensure that there can be "mutual recognition" of each other's regulations and so ensure "trade remains as frictionless as possible".
"Frankly the competitive challenge we in the UK and the European Union will face with the rest of the world... will not be met by a reduction in standards. We will never be cheaper than China or have more resources than Brazil."
But Davis's speech, the latest in a series as the government prepares for crucial talks with Brussels on the future trading relationship due to start in April, was immediately criticised. "We are working towards a deal later this year and frankly my last couple of days of visits (and) everything I have seen indicates that that is well on the cards," Davis said Tuesday. Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl said after meeting him that she wanted "clarity quickly".