What does a stream of raw sewage symbolise? Broken Brexit promises, for one | Zoe Williams

What does a stream of raw sewage symbolise? Broken Brexit promises, for one | Zoe Williams

A Lords amendment sought to stop water companies dumping raw sewage – and 265 Tories voted against it. This faecal matter has become a powerful symbol of modern Britain

I remember the good ol’ days, when we weren’t always lurching from one crisis to another and we had time to wonder why the EU’s clean-beach legislation hadn’t done more for its popularity. Maybe people just didn’t care about sewage, one way or the other?

That was possibly the working assumption of Conservative MPs, who are now experiencing mounting unease – lobby-speak for freaking the hell out – over the environment bill that is ping-ponging through parliament. It’s a rangy piece of legislation, of which the faeces element is only a small part. A Lords amendment sought to put a duty on water companies not to dump raw sewage into the waterways – and 265 Tories voted against it. The website Evolve Politics published the list in full and thus crashed itself, so urgent was public interest in the names. Querulous Tories are taking to Twitter crying fake news, puzzled by the strength of public feeling.

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