The remarkable scenes of Saturday’s #PeopleVoteMarch along with the growing disquiet about Brexit, as evidenced by the huge response to the petition on the government website, demonstrates that all is not well with the decision that was taken on 26 June 2016.
Frank Brehany considers that on the issue of Consumer Rights, he has been stuck in a perpetual ground-hog day since the beginning of 2016, along with the fact that because there is so much noise on Brexit, there is little chance to promote the possibilities or lack of possibilities arising from Brexit.
It is clear that there are some fundamental concerns arising from the Brexit conversation around Human Rights, Workers Rights, Immigration, Laws and Sovereignty, but he has observed that there is little or no commentary about Consumer Rights.
The issue of Consumer Rights is vital to our Society because it helps to promote safe products and good practice towards Consumers and it should be remembered, that a happy Consumer is one that oils the machine of Industry; a fact all to often lost since 2016.
Consumer Laws are so important for many different reasons, but if you consider that the average UK household spends 5% of their annual budget on holidays and travel, they need to have protections additional to a contract to keep them safe in all scenarios.
Frank considers that it is once again time to pause and reflect what the most viable different brexit options means for Consumers:
- Revocation of Article 50. This would mean that subject to ‘further conversations' about the decision of 2016, we would remain full members of the European Union and therefore continue to enjoy the protections offered by EU Law. Apart from the fact that the UK has burnt many European bridges, we would still be able to participate in the creation and content of new Regulations and influence their development. The UK Consumer would return to safer and certain ground than they have experienced these past few years;
- No Deal. This means that the UK would crash out of the EU, without any deal to continue or align our laws with the European Union. It is clear that some in government wish to create a de-regulated society and that will have a direct impact on Consumer Rights both from the quality of the product received to redress. There are some who argue that Consumers will receive protection in contract, but given that Consumers are unable to influence such contracts, any rights will be limited (Note: an example of how the disentangling of EU Laws will affect Consumers can be seen through the 200+ Statutory Instruments that have been created. In a no deal, this would be just the beginning of the de-regulatory exercise);
- Norway style Agreement. Frank would describe this as EU Membership lite. We would still be members of the Single Market and Customs Union with some differences and for most Consumer transactions, there would be little or no difference, as the UK would have to implement EU Law. The big difference would be that we could not influence the development of EU Law and a wider Consumer view may not be taken into account;
- Variations of a theme. Frank has noted the different variations offered by some politicians. Consumer Rights would rest within the ‘sphere’ created between ‘no deal’ and a ‘Norway style Agreement’, with limitations on those rights or the ability to influence them.
Frank Brehany, the Independent Consumer Campaigner & Commentator states:
“When you consider that Consumers spend thousands of pounds each year on consumables, such as holidays, washing machines or cars, it is surprising that UK society and our media have not challenged the assertions of UK politicians, that nothing will change. Brexit changes everything. Brexit has the potential to create disharmony between Consumers and Industry, thus adding extra costs each year to their respective pockets. As we move into what may be the final chapter of Brexit, it is as well to remember that happy Consumers oil the machine of Industry. Equally, it should be no surprise to anyone, that my opinion since 2016, reveals that Consumers best interests are served by the UK being a full participating member of the EU; nothing or no-one has challenged that opinion; I could not in all conscience say otherwise. Hopefully this simple analysis will help broadcasters and consumers understand why this is so important".