We must have a consumer first Brexit - Which?

Posted On: 
14th March 2018

The Chief Executive of Which? launches a 'Consumer Charter for Brexit' which seeks to minimise the risks and maximise the opportunities for consumers of leaving the European Union.

Credit: 
Which?

Which? has a very simple goal when it comes to leaving the European Union – we want the Government to deliver a Brexit that puts consumers first - and we are ready to help them do it. 

Consumer spending accounts for more than 60 per cent of the economy, equal to £100 billion a month. Therefore any plan which doesn’t put consumers front and centre is incomplete at best. 

The narratives we are hearing around Brexit up to now have not concentrated on the consumer, and this has left people unclear about what the implications might be for them. 

Our consumer research shows that the majority of people do not even question that Brexit may change things for them in their daily lives. 

Rather, there is an assumption that everything will stay the same. But there is by no means a guarantee that will happen, and it can’t be taken for granted. 

We know that the process of negotiating our exit from the EU brings with it both opportunities and challenges. And, there is work to be done to reassure consumers about what will happen to their existing rights and protections. 

For example, since June 2017 EU regulation has allowed us all to use our mobile phones while in the EU and pay domestic prices. But once we leave the EU we need an agreement in place for that to continue. What we don’t want is a return to the stories of consumers coming home from holidays to huge bills because they haven’t turned their data off. 

At the same time, we also need to make sure we grasp the opportunities that arise, and where possible create an even better environment for consumers. There is a chance here – with control over all aspects of consumer protection - to make improvements that will make the UK a true world-leader. 

And that is what the success of Brexit will ultimately be defined by – what it delivers for consumers. We are proposing four consumer tests on standards, choice, rights and price – which are the areas that matter most to consumers based on our research. 

Alongside this we have nine priorities which we want immediate attention from the Government. These are based around the consumer landscape, food, energy, travel and transition. This is where we want the Government to set out how they will work us and business to ensure that these issues are addressed through the negotiations. 

If people find that post-Brexit the price of their holidays go up, the range of food they can buy in the supermarket goes down and that returning goods they have bought from a country in the EU becomes more difficult then it won’t feel like a success to them. 

Which? does not take a view on whether our country should head for a hard Brexit, a soft Brexit, or any other kind of Brexit. We are just asking that the interests of ordinary consumers - the vast majority of us - get the priority they deserve.

Our Charter sets out what we think needs to happen to minimise the risks, and maximise the opportunities of Brexit to make it a success for consumers. 

Our vision is clear: we want an economy where people are supported by high levels of rights and protection – and with greater access than ever before to quality, affordable products and services.

We hope politicians from all parties, the Government and business will support this vision and work with us to deliver on the priorities we have set out.

A Brexit that puts consumers first will benefit us all - not just now, but for generations to come