Stockton North MP. Alex Cunningham, has warned for the future of the UK’s chemical industry post-Brexit should the Government not commit to EU-wide standards for continued trade.
Supporting an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill, Alex called on the MPs from across the House to support the UK’s continued participation in the Regulation for the Registration, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). REACH is an established requirement for the selling of chemicals within the EU; should the UK withdraw from the EU without preliminary or final agreement on REACH then all documentary evidence suggesting a molecule is safe to use would ‘cease to exist’. This would then result in anything produced utilising them being restricted from export to the EU.
On Monday I asked the Prime Minister if she could offer some reassurance to the chemical companies that REACH would apply after we leave the EU and beyond the implementation phase. Sadly she had none to give dismissing the concerns as just another area for the negotiators to talk about. It is so much more than that – it is the very future of our chemical industry that is at stake.
My fear is that if we don’t retain a system that enables our chemical companies to remain within REACH, some of that forward planning they talk of will not be for the UK but will be for elsewhere and we will pay in terms of investment and jobs. For Teesside which leads the world in many ways in chemicals, the outcome could be particularly bad and we need Ministers to spell out very specifically how the UK will ensure our companies have the business environment and associated regulations in place to guarantee future trade.