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Concerns grow over Brexit, food prices and the pound

Brexit

Our latest research reveals that the public are growing increasingly concerned about the impact of leaving the EU. As such, we want to know, what are your Brexit concerns and what do you think the benefits of Brexit could be?

In the weeks following the vote, Which? gave advice about people’s finances and their questions about holidays. In fact, the main point that we consistently made was that nothing has yet changed, apart from the clear and well reported hit to the pound caused by uncertainty in the markets.

Navigating change

The referendum result has had an impact on me both personally and professionally. I’ve lived in Brussels for over 15 years – I got married there, had a baby there and have spent my professional life working to influence EU policy across a range of subjects.

As a British citizen abroad, I’ve become one of the ‘bargaining chips’ with an uncertain future.

But, what hasn’t changed is that the EU continues to have a major role in UK policy and as such my day-to-day work continues. I still spend my days meeting political stakeholders, representing Which? for UK consumers on a European Commission expert panel and highlighting their needs in relation to specific policy.

I also meet with elected officials, the infamous MEPs in the European Parliament. The UK has 73 MEPs working across a variety of issues, so we provide input and examples where the UK is doing good work.

But, what has changed is the amount of focus we’re now placing on ensuring the best possible outcome for UK consumers.

And, this is where hearing from you is key to making sure we’re getting it right. Our research in particular is a really important tool for us as it helps us to tell political stakeholders what consumers are most concerned about. Our latest research shows nearly half of people (47%) are worried about the impact of Brexit. This is an 8% rise since our September survey.

In fact, we found that people are increasingly worried about the price of food (58%), the value of sterling (53%) and the price of holidays (39%).

Addressing concerns

We’ve found that there are concerns about how effectively consumers will be represented during the negotiations, and that’s where Which? comes in – we’re doing our best to push for the government to place consumers at the heart of its negotiations and to set out how they will champion consumers’ interests.

In addition to discussions we’ve been having with our members, we’ve been working behind the scenes to assess how legislation will be affected, ramping up intelligence gathering and looking at how different sectors such as energy, transport, food and financial services could change for consumers.

As well as the areas we campaign in, as you can imagine, there are many other areas that we haven’t previously focused, mainly because the EU was somewhat of a secondary safety net/backstop.

Getting your voice heard

In the coming months, we want to see assurances that existing consumer rights, such as rules on mobile roaming or flight compensation, and protections, such as food and product safety, will not be watered down. And we also want to see the Government setting out how consumers will benefit as we start to forge new relationships outside of the EU.​

​These assurances are critical because consumer confidence​ is critical to the UK economy. And this is why ​putting consumer needs ​at the centre of the negotiations ​is critical for the UK.

As we continue to form our position on a number of issues related to Brexit, we’re keen to hear from you what you think it’s important for us to focus on. Do you agree with the findings of our survey? Is there anything that you think is missing?

Comments

Couple of facts about Brexit which have been in the air. First it has been pointed out that by the time we might leave in 2019 two million people will have died, Given the voting patterns of the cohort most likely to die and those who will replace them at some point during the Brexit process there will be an automatic majority for Remain without even anyone changing their mind. The Brexiteers are afraid of another referendum on the results of the negotiation because they are scared stiff they will lose it by a large margin.
Second point is that a trade negotiator has pointed out that when you try to cut a trade deal with a country they say OK, how big is your market. If theirs is bigger than yours you are not going to get your fantasy deal. Apparently, though I have not verified this, Switzerland recently tried a deal with the Chinese. The Chinese said well Switzerland your market is small so we will agree that if we get free access to your market now you can have free access to ours in 15 years. The Swiss apparently agreed to this.
Third obvious point is that although roughly 50% of our imports come from EU countries it is far from 50% of the exports of each of those countries, so has a much lesser effect on each of them that the size of our exports to the EU. We are not in a strong negotiating position.

The referendum took place on June 23rd 2016. Does this mean that the older voters opinion does not count? Do we then wipe their votes from the result in 2 or so years time, does this mean that the elderly and the sick have no right to vote?
I do agree that this statistic has implications to make us think about fairness to a younger population who have no memory of the plain old Common Market and before then. I would repeat part of a comment in another post. My ailing 91 year old uncle was in tears as he recounted being aboard a tornadoed ship then finding himself in th water surrounded by bits of his mates. He asked why he went through this, he was ‘doing his bit’ to stop Germany overrunning Europe. He sees Gemany has won by stealth enabled by no war debt which was picked up by the allies in order to stop another totalitarian government ‘rescuing’ the Germans from the penury that would have followed. I would note that in fairness, it was a reasonable strategy to follow even though we had to bear the pain of part of the financial burden imposed on us. I doubt he will be alive to see us leave the EU but he earned his vote. However, my sister-in law who is healthy and in her 60s had her own ration cards as a baby was angry when she recieved emails from her children and spouses wailing “What have you done?” She replied with words to the effect that she was righting a wrong carried out by her elders in the Common Market referendum. Many of the older voters are angry that what seemed a good idea, a trading agreement with a few European neighbours, has morphed into the EU without a consultation with the electorate. I know that we are being accused of looking at our glorious past through rose tinted specs, this is a straw man fallacy. I remember it was horrible. The younger voters for the most part will look back on a past that included central heating, being ferried by car to after school activities, an endless supply of lots of new clothes, their own TVs, mobile phones, computers, overseas holidays. Of course, they are frightened of change, I understand. But throwing their many toys out of their prams and shouting it is not fair, we want as many referendums as it takes until we get the result we want is merely indicative of their up bringing.

Brexit-no chance. says:
15 December 2016

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I well remember the debate when we first joined what was then the Common Market. The big concern was that food prices would rise! Plus ca change….!

I certainly didn’t vote for inflation eroding savings and pensions, more expensive overseas holidays, higher fuel, imported goods and food prices, more xenophobic attitudes and attacks on fellow human beings and more austerity measures applied to our NHS and social services.
The misinformation and blatant lies portrayed in this fiasco to democracy has made us a global laughing stock. The political “leaders” that allowed the establishment of the referendum should be ashamed of themselves. Democracy is normally able to to be changed every 5 years but this decision has created a lifetime of despair and left our future economy and wellbeing and in particular our children’s future at great risk.

We can’t change the EU every 5 years.

Anthony Bewers says:
14 December 2016

Lets get on with Brexit ASAP, and lets not water it down, hard and quick, then we can get on with trade and living.

Glenn says:
14 December 2016

The Government dragging its heels, the public have spoken ! Democracy is democracy, at the end of the day it’s all about, corporates getting their own way and controlling our lives and currency’s…. I have recently returned from working and living West Africa for the past 20 years, and all that time I integrated with the local population, I never had any trouble…. since returning, this country has just gone to the dogs….arrogant and ignorant people… we need to pull out of the EU, we need control our own borders, it’s a fact beforehand that Global prices were going to rise, not because of Brexit, I am afraid that the mainstream media are just biased and are against Brexit, it’s almost sickening to watch and listen to the news……. let’s face it the BBC get massive aid from the EU, don’t be fooled by thinking it’s relying on license payers… we are all being conned, from Chilcot, BBC Savile, what’s happened to the historical sex crimes investigations with MP’s from the 60’s – 80’s + all massively covered up !!!!

Billp says:
14 December 2016

Why don’t the remainer’s blame the people who Did not vote, instead of those voted for Brexit, maybe if more people had voted then we would have had a remain vote. People who do not vote should not complain.

I don’t think there are increasing concerns about leaving the E U, it’s just the way the question is put. WHICH is not as impartial as it makes out and has a vested interest in implying consumers are worried so that it has something to tell the media and the government continues giving Which funding.

Which is self important and virtue signalling but should investigate its own retail arm. I paid for a computer mag/helpline for over 2 years and it was a waste of money. The so-called computer expert did not even understand the question let alone know the answer, and when I cancelled the subscription they were unpleasant.

As a matter of interest, how much government funding does Which? receive, Lyn, and what for?

Hi Lyn, sorry to hear that. I’ll share your feedback with the team, also just to reassure you that Which? doesn’t receive any government funding.

JAWilliams says:
14 December 2016

Couple of things spring to mind. The choice was out or remain in the EU to advise Parliament what you wanted not to dictate what our elected MP’s must do. We vote them in as our representatives to go to Parliament listen to the greatest debating chamber there is and then make a decision based on the merits of the arguments they have heard. (Bear in mind that when people periodically clammer to bring back hanging it is clear hanging will not come back no matter how many protest for it. )

So a small majority voted out. (of the total pop’ 65m, approx 45m are eligible to vote, of whom 17m wanted out leaving 28m who had little interest either way so did not vote or were part of the 16m who wanted to remain. So 17m voted for out 28m did not vote for out. Let’s say that Parliament considers, accepts and votes for that then why do some Brexiteers say ah but we want to stay in the single market when we are out and we still want this benefit or that benefit and still want… . Hang on you wanted out. Well be out then not a little bit out.

Why do the Brexiteers whinge about the remainers who still argue their point of view? Apparently they should now shut up having been beaten in the referendum. Uh, when did the Liberals last form a government? About 100 years ago? They are still trying to become the government. That’s democracy. Both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party are beaten every decade or so but do they shut up and give up? Of course not they continue with their arguments as do lots of other groups, political or otherwise.

Now that more and more people can see the difficulties, the costs, the agonising, the delays, the legal wrangles, the impracticalities of a possible departure from the EU so more and more are saying wait, we need another vote to consider the situation as we are now beginning to see it. I’m one of them.

I voted leave. I cannot wait to get out of the EU! If it costs us in the short term I am okay with that because I believe the benefits will be many in the long run. For me it’s not about money, it’s about joining a common market and ending up in something totally different and being ruled from Brussels. I believe in immigration but not a free-for-all which is what has happened. I want out and not a fake departure.

Even before the referendum, it was well known that it was advisory and did not make new law. The briefing paper prepared by the House of Commons library on the European Union Referendum Bill stated categorically that the Bill “does not contain any requirement for the UK Government to implement the results of the referendum, nor set a time limit by which a vote to leave the EU should be implemented. Instead, this is a type of referendum known as pre-legislative or consultative, which enables the electorate to voice an opinion which then influences the Government in its policy decisions. The referendums held in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in 1997 and 1998 are examples of this type, where opinion was tested before legislation was introduced. The UK does not have constitutional provisions which would require the results of a referendum to be implemented…In contrast, the legislation which provided for the referendum held on AV in May 2011 would [explicitly] have implemented the new system of voting without further legislation.”
This briefing went unchallenged. It was the duty of our politicians to balance the referendum result carefully against all the other information they had to hand, and come to a judgement about the best interests of the UK. They did not. One can see that in practice it is difficult for politicians to act at variance with the wish of the electorate expressed in a referendum on some matter. But it is by no means impossible: governments all the time take decisions which they know from opinion polls to be at variance with the current popular mood. Yet one can imagine the cries of betrayal which would greet a contrary decision, and can well understand that politicians wishing to be re-elected might be shy of these.
However, there was in this case good reason to believe that a strong government might stand against the referendum result. The government had been elected only a year earlier, and had a mandate to offer a referendum but to support membership of the EU. The result was a narrow one, and passions were high: the result showed not a clear wish of the nation to leave the European Union, but a nation which was deeply divided and could come to no decisive view on the matter. The campaign was marred by an extraordinary series of irresponsible acts by leading politicians, and of misrepresentations going way beyond the norm of political campaigns into the territory of outright lying (the worst of these was the £350m a week claim, which appeared on every news bulletin, but which Farage discounted on the very day of the result, and which we now learn will lead to not an extra penny going to the NHS). The wording of the question led to a negative result: this gave the Government no guidance on which of many possible directions for action was preferred, which has clearly led to furious debate among the leaders of the winning side – debate which seems no nearer resolution now, than on 24 June. Finally, investigation by researchers has shown a huge degree of confusion among the public about the nature of the European Union and the implications of leaving it, and that for many the vote was no more than symbolic, reflecting an extent of unwelcome social change and financial impoverishment which has become intolerable to many voters – yet which will doubtless remain unimproved, and quite possibly worsen, if our economy exchanges the cold winds of the Single Market for the chiller ones of unfettered world competition. Hence remarks, such as those of Mr Cameron, about obeying “an instruction from the British people”, were very wide of the mark, and were prompted by a readiness to put the unity of his party above the interest of the nation.
The British Election Study, a long-running panel survey, asked voters in July whether they had changed their minds since the vote. Only 1% of Remainers had, and another 1% were unsure; while among Leavers 6% wished they had not voted the way they did, and a further 4% were in two minds. Thus the balance of sentiment had been reversed within a month of the vote. The courts have now ruled that the Government may not act on the result without the consent of Parliament; and we know that the majority of MPs and peers were against leaving the EU. Meanwhile the pound has collapsed, promising galloping inflation, and business is squealing at the implications of constraints on immigration.
By this time next year, there may well already be clamorous agitation for the UK to stay in the EU. We have to hope that we do not stick blindly to our lemming-like rush to destruction, and leave the EU just at the moment when the other members reform it to become the kind of association which, if we Britons had only taken our membership seriously, we would have worked hard and successfully to achieve as members ourselves.

As a company owner I buy goods from the EU for resale in the UK. Currently this means I pay no VAT on goods I receive from EU sellers.
What happens after BREXIT? Also what happens to goods I sell to EU, do they pay VAT and Import Duty? I also buy goods from Israel, what happens to the special deal they gave with the UK?

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Lets get one thing straight about Brexit.
We don’t need to be dictated to and ruled by Brussels.
As far as trading, GB have been world traders before the EU was ever thought of!
Furthermore, scaremongering is the centre of fear brought about by those in the remain camp, causing uncertainty about the what if’s & don’ts.

A positive attitude is needed here.
We are after all a strong Nation and Britania will rule the waves once again!!!

Hooray for those who voted for Brexit!!!!!!!!!

Responses to the remainers on the basis that its undemocratic to oppose the (none legally binding referendum), don’t recognise the soverienty of parliament to make the law, our courts to even consider the issues, refuse to recognise most logical debate and trot out slogans rather than rational arguement.

If we leave the EU, who think’s we will be able to do a better deal with other countries, WTO rules are significantly poorer in relation to health and environmental requirements than the EU. WTO rules are generally determined by global conglomerates. Even to subscribe to those rules we will have to reapply to the WTO.

Global commercial interests will never agree a trade deal without the equivalent of TTiP conditions i.e . our courts will be inferior to those of a commercial tribunal. Independence? Soverienty? The right to decide? These will go to global capitalism.

Think again, Think about a vote in Parliament not to support the invoking of Article 50, think again about a second referendum on the terms of an exit.

If the British people really want an exit, I would not oppose it, but I actually think the British public are fed up with the Westminster bubble, and many with the lack of an articulate voice to question Bre(ak)sit (other than the Green party – who have no coverage from either national or satelight press, and certainly not ‘the journalist of the year’ at the BBC) the limitation of most peoples pay rises, their ability to join a trade union to improve their conditions and pay, rather than the EU membership are the issue.

Please remember that National Insurance was brought in 1911 partly because too many men were unfit to fight in the Boer War (of 1907) due to poor social/health conditions. Since then it has been used by governments of different colours to feed the general coffers of government rather than the NHS or the state pension fund. Pensions were brought in in 1913 (I think) and certainly in 1947 to ensure that those with limited incomes would have some security in their later life.The current provision is far from adequate but is better than none.

The EU may be beaucratic but is that worse than poor food quality, fracking, ignoring climate change, poorer standards for our children and grandchildren?

Saul
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Ernestine says:
14 December 2016

Which? is making a lot of assumptions in this article. But, since you mention it, I believe the current compensation rates for airline delays are over-generous. Someone who is delayed by weather has to suck it up, whereas someone who is delayed by something within the airline’s control gets a big cash windfall – often much more then they paid for their tickets. The current system has created a whole new industry of claims firms taking their cut. All this can only add to the cost of airfares. Compensation should reflect the actual loss, if any. I expect the UK to replace these EU rules with a fairer system and I hope that Which? will campaign for that.

Skimming through these comments, one thing strikes me very hard. Those who believe we should exit from Europe are busy listing why (no need to elaborate since this has been done for us above) and they are busy accusing anyone who voted to stay of being undemocratic, bad losers. They insist we should get on and leave Europe ASAP. Not one of them has addressed the problem of what the UK will actually look like when we have left. It’s all very well telling us what is going to happen but what will that REALLY MEAN to you and me. We are where we are at present, and there is a journey to where we have to get to, where ever that is. Has anyone stopped to think how this journey is to be managed? Let’s leave Europe is not an answer it’s just a desire. Has anyone considered the enormity of the task facing the civil service when they clamour for an exit yesterday? Has anyone considered what Brexit will actually deliver? They know what they hope it will deliver, but what happens when this golden goal is reached and many of these hopes have been dashed by circumstances that none of us can yet anticipate, by laws that have to be voted on and political forces from elsewhere. There may be simple folk out there who think we should just put up a few barriers at Dover and tell everyone to B… off home. There are others who, perhaps, have considered and come to a logical conclusion before voting us out. What about some thoughts about what we should be doing now, in the next few months and years instead of declaring the match won without actually playing the ninety minutes with the ball.

Your summary and titles do not correspond with the percentages you have quoted. When are you going to get onside with the majority ( not 30 odd per cent) who voted for Brexit. Stop telling them to be scared and that they were wrong

Will the remainders stop moaning about the brexit result, just get on with it! There is much uncertainty about the impact of brexit, but let’s be straight , the EU is a floundering mess and always has been. The concept was great, but it has grown into a cash cow for those who run it. If those who think we are going to lose out big time, I say to them, that the EU has a lot more to lose than Britain, food for instance, the only reason this will rise is that some companies feel the need to make more profit from scaremongering. It is not about isolation as a country, it is about your children growing up in areas where , at present the English language is a second language, it is about the impact of Immigration on individual areas, the schools, housing, the social structure of our benefits . I have no problem with people who have jobs to go to in this country, but I do have a problem with those who just want everything free without paying a single bean in the system.
So, will it be worse…no , will we survive, of course we will, will we be better off after the initial impact, definitely.
Let’s just get on with it, if the European Union does not like certain aspects of the brexit negotiation, tough , just go ahead and do what is necessary to exit this overbloated club that we are paying dearly for but getting very little in return.

If only our business could do the talking with the rest of the world’s businesses. Governments are more concerned about saving face than getting on with the people’s decision.

Get on with Brexit. Any concerns, and costs to our economy are far outweighed by the idiotic policies of the EU, which have lined the pockets of an army of bureaucrats and politicians. Corruption is rife, and we are the only country that “obeys” all the rules to the letter. The EU with it’s migration policy has made this country successful, but it is a low wage economy, which suits big international corporations, who then do not invest in the UK, but just use cheap labour to achieve vast profits, on which they pay a pittance in tax, and move those profits out of the UK to invest in countries where they have even more “influence”, hire even cheaper labour, and can pay even less tax, making them even more money. These companies rig all what you call safety standards, so that only they can make goods that will pass muster. Smaller companies have no chance. Government departments are regularly targeted by companies, who influence politicians with a promise of a job after political life, and their compliance with EU rules. We, the public lose out, because a smaller company can often make exactly the same item at a fraction of the cost, but they cannot afford to employ all the compliance staff. Large numbers of economic migrants, are causing social unrest, and that will explode in to war on the streets very soon if we don’t stop it. There will be a cost, but we can help in the short term by buying British produced goods and taking our holidays in the wonderful country. In the long term we need to crack down on the banking system, if they want to move abroad, let them take their corrupt practices to somewhere else, they only amount to 10% of our economy anyway. We need to invest, massively, in our infrastructure, i.e. roads, rail, airports. Our health service and educations systems need to be designed in such a way as to support individuals, and companies, and use the vast talent we have in this country, to export our wonderful inventions and ideas to the rest of the world.

Robert Yates says:
15 December 2016

Robert says:
The protectionist EU food policies and Common Agricultural Policy deny the chance for better/cheaper worldwide imports and so raise food prices mainly for the benefit of french farmers. Remember the wine lakes and food mountains.