In the 2016 referendum, the majority vote was in favour of ‘leaving the EU’. But the result has split the country and the two British Unionist parties over what sort of Brexit the UK will end up with when Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.
The announcement by Jeremy Corbyn to keep Britain in EU customs union – which is in effect what was the ‘EEC’ which the UK joined in 1974 (while still leaving the EU and the ECJ) was applauded by the GMB.
This means that – if Corbyn’s Labour and Tory rebel MPs win a forthcoming crucial vote in the Westminster parliament to remain in the customs union/ EEC, the UK will also remain part of the EU’s Euratom treaty.
Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary, explained: “Euratom is vital for the security of the nation’s energy needs, and 66,000 nuclear jobs directly depend on it.
“And Jeremy Corbyn’s statement that the Labour party would seek to remain a member of Euratom is a sobering dose of common sense.
“When Theresa May said last year that Britain must leave Euratom by virtue of an ideologically motivated desire to be outside of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice for the resolution of any disputes, she was once again putting Tory Party interests ahead of the interests of the country.”
Corbyn’s vow was also welcomed by the British Nuclear Industry Association.
Tom Greatrex, NIA chief executive – and a former MP and Labour shadow energy spokesman – said: “The UK’s civil nuclear sector has consistently stated that remaining a member of Euratom after the UK leaves the European Union is its preferred option, offering continuity and predictability in an otherwise uncertain environment for the UK.
“The government’s position to replicate the current Euratom arrangements has already proved to be both a time-consuming and uncertain process, and it has only just begun.
“As yet, no new Nuclear Cooperation Agreements (NCAs) have been signed, discussions for a new trading arrangement with the EU have not begun, an agreement on continued involvement in nuclear R&D has not yet been reached and without a transitional period and continued relationship with Euratom, a new safeguarding inspections regime will need to both be agreed and capable of implementation by March 2019 – something the Office of Nuclear Regulation has stated it would not be able to deliver.
“The eventual outcome will be dependent upon negotiation and agreement with the European Commission, but seeking to retain the benefits of membership of Euratom and avoid the confusion and uncertainty of a lack of a close association with Euratom, is sensible, pragmatic and in the interests of both the UK and continuing EU.”
Similarly, the ruling SNP-run Scot-Govt has again warned of the economic importance of keeping Scotland (as well as the UK) in the single market/ EEC.
Scottish Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham, MSP, said: “The UK Government’s approach to Brexit represents a significant threat to Scotland’s natural environment and climate change ambitions.
“That is why it has been wholly disappointing that up until now these meetings have not focused on key environmental issues. More generally on the environment, the UK Government has given us little meaningful information on its intentions or sought to involve the devolved administrations in a substantive way in discussions about the impact of Brexit as was repeatedly promised.
“With 80% of our environmental legislation founded in EU law, protecting the devolution settlements from a UK Government power grab is essential if we are to continue to drive forward our ambitious work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance environmental standards and create a cleaner, greener Scotland.”
27 Feb 2018