Labour big beasts make the environmental case for the EU

Nine Labour ministers and shadow ministers say Brexit threatens action on climate change.

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The prospect of British exit from the European Union poses “a threat to so many environmental achievements that we take for granted”, according to nine current and former Labour ministers and shadow ministers for the environment, energy and climate change.

In an open letter published on The Staggers, the group warns that action on climate change would be threatened by Brexit, as the EU enables European countries to form “one negotiating bloc” which amplifies British influence in climate discussions. The letter also praises the impact of the EU in reducing industrial accidents, improving fuel efficiency and cutting air pollution.

The signatories include Ed and David Miliband, Hilary Benn and Margaret Beckett.

World leaders will sign the climate deal agreed at December's Paris conference on Friday in New York.

Read the full letter below.

Dear Sir,

As members of the Labour Party we believe that, by the strength of our common endeavour, we achieve more than we achieve alone.

Nowhere is this more true than in the European Union where, in place of conflict, we now have active co-operation with our neighbours. The benefits are clear in European environmental standards which have cleaned up our beaches and rivers; in the animal welfare and food safety standards we rely on as consumers; and in the nature laws which provide strong protection for our wild places and ensure that migratory birds are protected over whichever European lands they fly.

We could not do these things without a committed and dynamic relationship with Europe. We have reduced industrial accidents, increased fuel efficiency in cars and cut air pollution by working together, through the EU, to agree common standards. Having these standards across Europe raises the bar for business and innovation and influences environmental standards globally. We have formed one negotiating bloc pushing for action on climate change, amplifying the UK’s influence on ambitious action across the whole globe on climate change. To meet these challenges and those of the future, we will be better off working together with our neighbours, rather than pulling out of the EU and weakening the country.

One off treaties can achieve progress but never in the history of human collaboration have we achieved so much than we have through peaceful co-operation with the EU. Brexit would be a threat to so many environmental achievements that we take for granted as fundamental to our standard of living in this country.

Labour will continue to campaign for Britain to remain in the EU for all those reasons as well as for jobs, growth, investment and our influence in the world. Britain is better off in the European Union.

Yours sincerely,

Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP, former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Huw Irranca-Davies, former Environment Minister

Kerry McCarthy MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Rt Hon David Miliband, former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP, former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Jonathan Reynolds MP, former Shadow Climate Change Minister

Rt Hon Dame Joan Ruddock , former Climate Change Minister

Henry Zeffman writes about politics and is the winner of the Anthony Howard Award 2015.