Brexit: David Davis rejects ‘Mad Max-style dystopia’ claims

David DavisImage copyright AFP/Getty

Britain will not be “plunged into a Mad Max-style world borrowed from dystopian fiction” after it leaves the EU, the Brexit secretary will say in a speech.

David Davis will say fears about a “race to the bottom” in workers’ rights and environmental standards are “based on nothing”.

He will argue for continued close co-operation between the UK and the EU on regulations and standards.

This will help ensure “frictionless” trade, he will say.

The Brexit secretary’s address to Austrian business leaders in Vienna is the latest in a series of speeches the UK government is calling “the road to Brexit” as it faces demands to spell out details of the future partnership it wants with the EU.

‘Tax haven’

The UK says it wants to avoid obstacles to smooth trade with the EU although it is leaving the single market and the customs union when Brexit happens in March 2019.

Mr Davis will say this can be achieved if both sides recognise each other’s standards and regulations, promising the UK will “continue our track record of meeting high standards” once outside the EU.

The government has previously spoken of adopting a “new economic model” to stay competitive if it is locked out of the EU single market after Brexit, and Labour has claimed the UK could be turned into a “low-wage, offshore tax haven”.

Mr Davis will hit back at the government’s critics in his speech, invoking the Mad Max series of action films which portray societal collapse in a lawless future world.

“They fear that Brexit could lead to an Anglo-Saxon race to the bottom,” Mr Davis will say.

“With Britain plunged into a Mad Max-style world borrowed from dystopian fiction.

“These fears about a race to the bottom are based on nothing, not history, not intention, nor interest.

“But while I profoundly disagree with them — it does remind us all that we must provide reassurance.”

Common principles

Neither side should “put up unnecessary barriers”, he will say, citing the example of a car made in Austria only needing one set of regulatory checks that are then accepted across the EU.

“That’s exactly the sort of arrangement we want to see maintained even after we leave the European Union.

“A crucial part of any such agreement is the ability for both sides to trust each other’s regulations and the institutions that enforce them.

“Such mutual recognition will naturally require close, even-handed co-operation between these authorities and a common set of principles to guide them.

The EU has previously said the UK will not be able to adopt its own standards and regulations and expect them to be recognised across Europe.

Last year EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said: “The UK wants to take back control, it wants to adopt its own standards and regulations.

“But it also wants to have these standards recognised automatically in the EU. That is what UK papers ask for.

“This is simply impossible. You cannot be outside the single market and shape its legal order.”

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