Fears that Brexit will mean an erosion of workers' rights are unjustified and ill-considered, a leading Conservative MEP said in Brussels today.

Anthea McIntyre reassured members of the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee after they had heard from Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt, the parliament's co-ordinator on Brexit, about his views on the consequences of Britain leaving the EU.

She pointed out that the UK had been well ahead of Brussels in introducing key legislation on equal pay, the living wage and protection from carcinogens.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative employment spokesman and MEP for the West Midlands, said: "Nobody sees Brexit as a opportunity to scale down the rights and protections afforded to workers in our country. On the contrary, the United Kingdom has been a leading light on fairness and safety in the workplace and will remain so.

"Rather than trying to create problems where they do not exist, this parliament should be acknowledging that the UK has consistently led the way on workers' rights and social legislation.

"Our health a safety standards are ahead of the rest of Europe and our record on industrial fatalities is the best of any country in the EU apart from Malta.

"The EU laws, that some MEPs seem to fear will be rolled back, are already enshrined in UK law, so Brexit will leave them untouched."