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Problems with Brexit regulation are putting consumers at risk, MEPs warn

Problems with Britain’s regulatory system caused by Brexit are putting British consumers at risk, a cross-party panel of MPs has warned.

In a damning report released on Wednesday, the influential Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said agencies were “struggling to recruit and retain the skills they need to regulate effectively.”

MEPs highlighted a shortage of veterinarians to monitor food safety and animal welfare in slaughterhouses, and toxicologists to assess chemical and food safety.

Similar problems also affect the competition authorities due to the lack of lawyers and economists.

The warning comes after Liz Truss promised during the Tory leadership campaign that she would scrap all remaining EU rules in the coming years.

The Prime Minister is believed to be particularly interested in deregulation because she believes it will boost growth – although she has provoked the wrath of groups including the National Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) after proposing to water down environmental regulations.

Sectors across the UK have reported recruitment problems since the UK left the single market and ended free movement with the continent.

But the PAC now warned that the problems would now hit regulators. As evidence for the committee, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) described the current situation as “from hand to mouth” when it came to recruiting and retaining sufficient numbers of veterinarians.

Meg Hillier, the committee’s chair, said: “Six years on from the Brexit vote and with key international trade deals still years out of sight, repeated delays in implementing a new import regime continue to impact UK businesses and increase risks for consumers . ”

“Poor government preparation and planning have been combined with international political realities and the result is that UK consumers and businesses face greater risks and costs,” she added.

The committee also warned that while the UK’s post-Brexit regulatory regime has yet to take shape, there is a risk of increased costs for businesses due to divergence from Europe.

Scottish National Party (SNP) consumer spokeswoman Patricia Gibson said the report was another “showing that Brexit and Westminster policies are causing instability and labor shortages and threatening standards”.

And Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labor’s shadow secretary for international trade, said the government’s “chronic lack of grip” was undermining British business.

“The work of the Public Accounts Committee has uncovered some of the roots of the Conservatives’ appalling record at securing trade deals and growth. This government has crashed the economy with plans made at Downing Street and working people are paying the price,” he said.

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