WHILST Leave voters are salivating over the deal that has finally been agreed with the EU they have not a clue what is about to hit them if it succeeds.

This is a free marketeer’s wet dream because the real sting in the tail is its abandonment of the EU’s concept of a level playing field.

The EU single market operates on a set of rules and standards that are common to all member states, and the UK will leave that system under this arrangement. This will then allow the Tories to launch a full-scale assault on employment rights, health and safety standards and environmental protections that are guaranteed to us at the moment by our membership of the EU.

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Why would they do this? Because rights and protections are costs, and by removing such rights employers will be able to reduce wages, health and safety standards etc thus boosting profit margins and further lowering conditions, and the powers to resist, for working people.

They will also be free to launch their long-awaited war on the NHS, the benefits system etc and further reduce the unemployed, and especially the disabled whom they despise with a passion, into a neverending cycle of poverty and deprivation.

For example, in its desperation to establish free trade deals with the USA, we must never forget that the EU and the USA have different views on regulatory standards, and it is those EU standards that the UK wants to abolish.

The EU has quite strict regulatory controls over matters concerning health, safety, and the environment, and in their perspective of free trade, all trade must operate within such regulatory controls.

With respect to food, drink, and consumption, the EU operates its food standards regime on what is known as a precautionary approach, which only permits processes and products proven to be safe, whilst the USA operates what is known as a providential approach, which permits whatever has not yet been proven to be dangerous.

Under this approach, the US allows a wide range of hormones, antibiotics, steroids and antihistamines as food supplements for animals to promote growth and combat disease that are banned in the EU.

Thus, the EU is telling us that such US practices will possibly harm and injure us as they are known to be potentially dangerous to human health, are not proven safe, and must therefore be subject to both monitoring and regulation, that our health is more important than the freedom of food producers to produce as they see fit.

By contrast the USA, fully supported by the Tories, is telling us that there is nothing to worry about until we find something seriously wrong with our health as a result; that to interfere with the freedom of food producers and manufacturers to operate their business as they see fit is unacceptable state regulation strangling both the free market and free trade, which is, of course, much more important than our health.

That is why the Tories are desperate to escape from the European regulatory system and in particular from the directives of the European Court of Justice, allowing them to remove the safeguards of European health and safety standards and freely pursue American-style economic practice.

The irony of it all is that those worst affected will be those working-class people who so enthusiastically voted Leave and who are so dependent on the health and welfare system the Tories will now be free to dismantle at their leisure. Historians will wonder at such stupidity.

Peter Kerr