/ Home & Energy, Money

Brexit: consumer needs must be front and centre

Brexit westminster

Plans for the UK’s departure from the European Union are now underway. While the government is setting up an all-business forum to consider the needs of the economy, we’re concerned the voice of consumers isn’t being heard.

Writing in The Times today, I’ve again pressed for David Davis, as the reappointed Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, to consider the important role consumers should play in the Brexit negotiations.

Sir,

During the financial crisis of 2009, Which? established the Future of Banking Commission to give consumers, who had been ignored despite paying the price in bailouts and austerity measures, a voice at the heart of the debate. That Commission was chaired by David Davis MP.

Today, eight years on, Mr Davis has created a business forum designed to ensure that the Government’s negotiating position on Brexit reflects the needs of the economy. However, the voice of consumers, who not only voted for Brexit but will also pay the bills and feel the effects, is once again missing despite the fact that consumer confidence is what is keeping our economy growing.

Mr Davis now has the opportunity to remember the vision that led him to produce that important report on banking. To ensure consumer needs are front and centre in the negotiations, he should now invite consumer representatives, such as Which?, to join this critical forum.

Peter Vicary-Smith
Chief Executive
Which?

Have your say

Do you think that consumers are being appropriately represented in the Brexit negotiations? Should Which? and other consumer representatives have a role in this business forum?

Comments
Guest
Valerie Bradley says:
7 July 2017

Consumers definitely should have a say when it comes to Brexit negotiations. Our voices must be heard. This is the second most important thing to happen in the last 70+ years; the first was the referendum on whether or not to join the Common Market where the voters were sold down the river because the question was a loaded one skewed to the wishes of Ted Heath and the like. It was NOT a vote to join the fledgling European Union. I was born in 1939 so know well what this country of ours was like before we were forced to accept the loss of our identity. Don’t let it happen again please.

Guest
L. Hughes says:
7 July 2017

In full favour of your comments. I am 72 and remember what made us great. We led the world in so many things, why are so many frightened of what will become of us. We were a wonderful nation. We invented, manufactured and sold with ease and pride. Why can we not do this again. With all balls in the right court, there is no reason why not. I still have faith in Great Britain. Young people must be forgiven for being cautious, but this is because they have no understanding of what went before. All they hear is the downside, of which there was not a lot compared with today. We taught so many countries (before joining the EU), so many things and were greatly respected. Why can we not do this again? I welcome the thoughts from disgruntled, undemocratic and, perhaps, unpatriotic 70+ year olds, who have been through the mill and come out the other side. We, as a family. were not well off. I went to a secondary modern school, my Mum worked in a shop and my dad worked at Hammersmith waterboard, Heathrow Airport, ran and offlicence and had various other ordinary jobs, so we were just normal run-of the-mill people, but we were proud to be British, worked hard and survived everything. And IT WORKED. So, don’t be worried about what will befall us, we will be fine, we always have been.

Guest
towler says:
7 July 2017

Yes we agree things were well run then with no bbc adverse comments

Guest
Peter Gleave says:
7 July 2017

I totally agree with the sentiments expressed by Valerie Bradley and L. Hughes . My father and his two brothers along with millions of other Britons, supported by the entire British nation –
and the British Empire and Commonwealth – fought for this country during the last war. They were fighting an evil tyranny, imposed by force of arms on Europe by Germany, which threatened our freedom, independence, right to self-government, and very existence as a nation with our own distinct identity . We paid a heavy price in blood for this freedom. In 1975, when I applied to join a prestigious regiment of the Territorial Army, I was required to give my reasons for wishing to do so in writing. I wrote, ‘If the country’s worth living in, it’s worth fighting for.’ This view motivated me to join the campaign against British membership of the ‘Common Market’ during the referendum that year. Subsequently it resulted in me joining U.K.I.P. as an activist in 1999. I’m not interested in whether or not Brexit might result in my being financially worse off than I might possibly be within an economically sclerotic , inward -looking customs union where (formerly) Great Britain will inevitably be outvoted 27 – 1 in ‘negotiations’ regarding the country’s future association with the E.U. by other member states determined to keep their tottering economies afloat at our expense. ‘We want our country back!’ Anyone who voted to sell their birthright for an E.U. ‘Mess of ‘potage’, supposedly on behalf of their ‘snowflake’, Corbyn – supporting progeny really ought to go along to their town’s war memorial and tell those listed on it that they were wrong to have fought and died for their country’s freedom. It goes without saying that the former are Euro- Quislings, not worthy of the latter’s sacrifice.
Peter Gleave (ex- Berks. and Westminster Dragoons 1975 – 1982)
‘Take these men for your example; like them, remember that prosperity can only be for the free; that freedom is the sure possession of those, alone, who have the courage to defend it.’
– from Pericles’ Oration to the Athenian Dead’ (History of the Peloponnesian Wars – Thyucidides)

Guest
Elaine Fullaway says:
8 July 2017

Consumers definitely should have a say when it comes to Brexit negotiations. Our voices must be heard. This is the second most important thing to happen in the last 70+ years; the first was the referendum on whether or not to join the Common Market where the voters were sold down the river because the question was a loaded one skewed to the wishes of Ted Heath and the like. It was NOT a vote to join the fledgling European Union. I was born in 1939 so know well what this country of ours was like before we were forced to accept the loss of our identity. Don’t let it happen again please.

Guest
Fiona Chesterman says:
8 July 2017

Dear L Hughes, I m aware that while this forum is not set up to be a general discussion on the merits or not of Brexit, and I respect your opinions as being your opinions, but I feel compelled to respond to your comments about your perception of young people needing to be forgiven for being cautious. I don’t know any who could be described as cautious. Furious yes. Furious that the world that they have been born into where they live in a much bigger picture than just their home country, where their friends are of all nationalities and religions, live, study and work all over the world embracing other languages, is to be compromised. I don’t think they could be described as ‘cautious’.

Guest
Barbara Millner says:
7 July 2017

I agree that we should say in all that goes before us in discussing matters concerning the country. These matters will have effects on families. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty of increases, there should be a public vote on a general increase for ALL – ie pensions/wages MUST keep up with inflation, after all, MPs gave themselves a whopping increase, therefore what is good enough for Peter is good enough for Paul – monies must rise with inflation.

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Guest

Nobody could say that pensions haven’t kept up with inflation over these last few years, Barbara – the ‘triple lock’ has seen to that. It is wages and certain welfare benefits that have fallen behind, Disposable incomes have marginally increased as taxes have been reallocated from direct to indirect forms [for example, tax allowances have been raised but some customs duties and the insurance premium tax have increased].

Guest
may husband says:
7 July 2017

I completely agree we must have control over,our own destiny and safeguard the future of our country my dad as did thousands of others fought for our freedom now we are trying again to get our freedom it seems it needs all the help it can get .

Guest
M.wiles says:
7 July 2017

They are trying to kick it about till they lose it out is out protect the con sumer they are the people

Guest
Terri Stevens says:
7 July 2017

It seems to me that, we, the people are at the back of the queue yet again. So much in fighting amongst the political establishment that we will end up with nothing to show for our votes’ It will be a total shambles if our (the peoples representatives) are not at the table from the beginning, all the way through to the last full stop on the last page.

Guest
Helen Gripaios says:
7 July 2017

No-one was explained the whole situation with brexit. Hospitals which are in a terrible state will be even worse as well as the tubes as many people over here want to do that kind of work. regards Hellen Gripaios

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Guest

that’s because we let any tom dick or harry into our country allow them to reap the benefits our our country, only to go back home and give nothing back, u try going to a foreign country an ask for free Dental or see a doctor or treatment u will have to pay

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Guest

While we appreciate that this is an emotive subject, please could you stick to commenting about consumer needs in the Brexit negotiations. Thanks

Guest
Ann Langton says:
7 July 2017

I was born in 1943 and I am one of the oldies who voted REMAIN because I could see , from what was said, that BREXIT was going to be a costly journey for the UK and the likelihood is I will be dead before we are out of the quagmire. It annoys me when I hear young people blaming the oldies for the horror that is unfolding because I am not wealthy and worked hard for the little I have.
Yours, in dire straits,
ARDL.

Guest
Dr R J Stansfield says:
7 July 2017

Yesterday, Poland’s President Duda said that it isn’t just Governments like those of Poland and the USA “giving the green light” to bilateral arrangements, it’s the businesses of those countries who must get on with making contracts with each other. He is discussing a “gas hub” to take gas from USA who will soon be a major exporter. Why is President Trump looking to Poland ? Why not Britain ? Where is PM May in these tradings ? If USA’s leader and businesses can strike deals with individual EU countries & their businesses, so can Britain. It isn’t JUST about “having your say”; it’s about kicking our politicians and business captains to get out there, negotiate , and get things DONE. Hard. Or has their dismal joint flop over the poor people in Grenfell Tower shown what they are made of ? Talk. No “Can Do”. No Do. No more substance than the Cheshire Cat’s smile. Let’s stop electing such ghosts, and get people in who DO listen to and act for us consumers. Email your MP and tell him/her that THAT’s what YOU want DONE. Please.
RJS, London W5

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Guest

because for one trump wants to bring more Jobs back to america, and since poland has been dealing with russia, trump has offered poland clean gas , i’m from south wales uk, i love trump, the guy got ball’s , mabie britain where asking too much, who knows Dr R J stansfield

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Guest

There is more to it than that Phillip , I have already replied on an energy convo relating to the Dr,s post on the Polish news .It was not offered to Poland on the basis of Russia,s oil being “dirty ” although Germany is Russia,s EU hub and the Germans are quite happy with gas from Gazprom and Germany re-exports the same gas to various EU countries including Ukraine (making a nice profit and improving the German employment situation vastly . It was done for “energy security ” reasons -aka- buy US gas –or else (to the world ) even though its much dearer .. Its all to bring down Russia economically as there is a direct pipeline to Poland from Russia. You will not read about it in the UK news media as it is censored in this country but we are very close to WW3 with NATO/UK/German/etc troops and missiles on Russia,s border threatening invasion . Like you I admire the Donald for sticking up for his country and when the US Elections were taking place I said I voted for Trump , I was heavily castigated at the time although HMG has had a sudden change of tune . This came to the notice of somebody in the USA as I started getting emails direct from the White-House press agency and still do telling me everything that the Donald is doing before it hits the newspapers and I have already said its time this country looked after its own citizens like the US President does to US citizens. So the UK never got it as the Donald has been advised on world strategy and that making a hub in Europe and in a country whose population are mostly anti-Russian is a wise move as this country is “Brexiting ” shortly and doesn’t use a lot of Russian gas in percentage terms compared to Poland , its “War Games ” on a strategic economic level.

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Guest

You do know he tells lots of lies, Duncan?

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Guest

Ian-if you mean the policies he was elected on, most have gone down the drain to the displeasure of those that voted for him ? Yes thats down to the Clinton lobby who are being paid 100,s of $$$$millions to remove him , hence the -we hateTrump ” and it worked most of his policies are now “Clintonese” policies . He still clings onto a minute few but he is proving a bit too easily swayed (in the USA ) for my liking , once I state something I believed in I wouldn’t change for any amount of money or power –dont vote for me as you would really get what I say . You stand or fall by your own actions not 1000 “advisers ” who are wolves in sheep,s clothing. I even know who is paying to bring him down ( the real “money men ” ) as its all done through second+third parties
but again , not printable. I am not in the least naive but that doesn’t stop me admiring the fact he is for the USA and he said it again today , its the weak-minded , fearful leaders of other countries that I hold in derision as they are keeping the Perto-Dollar alive and the world is paying for the US Treasury printing worthless $$$$ and government bonds and the money press is red hot in its “Quantitative Easing mode as this country has copied on a lesser scale meaning the poor pay more for goods .That cant go on and wiser men than me have said that for a number of years so —–?

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Guest

No, Duncan; I don’t mean the policies. I’m talking about his claiming to have passed more legislation in his first hundred days than any other US President. At the time he said that he hadn’t passed anything. That was a lie. I do have many other examples, the size of the inauguration crowd being just one.

And there’s no conspiracy, Duncan; it’s that most people can’t quite comprehend how someone so obviously unfit for office could be elected.

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Guest

“You do know he tells lots of lies, Duncan?”

Gosh!

Just like all them other politicians then… 🙁

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Guest

“…the size of the inauguration crowd being just one.”

…and Trump claimed it was millions 😉

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Guest

Ian I can prove that massive amounts of money have been payed to bring him down , this has nothing to do with the well trodden –“conspiracy theory ” logic put out originally by a US government department to hide the truth using fake news , do you not keep up with whats happening in the world ? . CNN/FOX “news ” etc have now admitted they lied their heads off about Donald and Putin (threat from Russia ) many so called “journalists” (newsreaders really ) have been sacked but you all believed the lies and obviously will keep on believing them because thats what the “Establishment ” says . I can understand as the vast majority of the media is owned and run by a small group of people on both sides of the Atlantic and this country is much more heavily censored than nearly every country in the world , do you think that is a “good thing ” ? As we speak HMG has still not reached a final concrete end to RM+his taking over of SKY (UK ) giving him a large % of the UK viewing audience.

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Guest

Duncan: this is drifting well off topic. If you’d care to copy your post – which is almost totally wrong in every major aspect – to the Lobby, I’ll be happy to continue in there.

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Guest

Ian do you not realise I speak to the British public and that is where my allegiance lies not to a small clique of people ( however nice they may be ) . I know we differ in our views of life in general but that is no obstacle to me and I certainly dont take offense as that would be childish but to say I am wrong in every aspect of what I say–no Ian I am not !

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Guest

Lobby, Duncan – not here. I’ll be pleased to explain why I said that over there.

Guest
Phillip Farnham says:
9 July 2017

well said ian, more then any man that became president he done more then obama’s 8 year turn diden’t he? lol

Guest
Phillip Farnham says:
9 July 2017

yep i do know theirs more to it, i can see it in black an white , where most people can’t see S**t
Quick enough to judge or have their say online, Yet to braindead to do some Real research and check online from “Multiple” Resources

Guest
Nick says:
9 July 2017

Do you really think that anything from the trunt’s mouth will actually happen? Why Poland? Could have been anywhere he knows nothing about!

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Guest

Strategy (international ) but this country is getting like the US public- insular who wouldn’t even know where various countries are in the world . After you have condemned him . what then ? get together and talk about the latest advert on TV for x-y-z product ?

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Guest

Well as you wont believe me will you believe a White-House press Dept. email to me quoting the Financial Times (US edition ) ?? –probably not as it goes against “established ” thinking .Anyway for what its worth -quote- 23-6-2017- Donald Trump is engineering a sharp shift in US energy policy by using natural gas exports as an instrument of trade policy . Championing sales to China and other parts of Asia in an effort to create jobs and reduce US trade deficits in an attempt to unleash US energy resources . Mr. Trump is trying to promote more liquefied natural gas exports and not just use LNG as a Geo-Political weapon aimed at nations such as Russia( vis-a-vis Poland ) . Ian surely you get that ?? I have not rebutted your other post yet because I am considering the political and actionable implications of me doing so, prodding me like a bull doesn’t work I know strategy implicitly . Your not the one at the receiving end of the consequences of doing so I am and know personally what its like.

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Guest

Personally, Duncan I cannot see anything wrong with the US President seeking to export more American gas to Europe, if that is indeed what he is saying – I have lost the thread of this discussion somewhere along the line.

At the moment the UK gets a significant amount of its natural gas from Libya and other parts of the Middle-East. I know who I would prefer to trade with for reliability of supply and immunity from being held to ransom.

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Guest

John-Europe is being put into a position of buying dear gas which benefits the USA , if TM wants the UK to import solely US gas then you cant avoid the implications of that which are steep rises in prices which will hit the poor . it will be put over as being “loyal ” and anybody like me criticizing it will be looked on as disloyal , in other words they will act like US “rednecks ” with the same level of intellectual consideration–zero . Of course its aimed against Russia but you said you were more concerned locally , with austerity in full swing how much more “belt tightening ” do you want the public to suffer , not for the UK,s benefit but for US profit ? The US is an Empire and we are the “Commonwealth ” of it . JUst listen to this “stirring speech by Donald to the Polish public- 7-7-2017-quote- I declare today for the world to hear that the West (USA ) will never ,ever, be broken (unipolar world ) .Our values will prevail (WW3 ) .Our people (US citizens ) will thrive , and our civilisation will triumph ( Pyrrhic victory post WW3 ) -So together , let us all fight (Russia ) like the Poles -for family -for freedom , for country (USA ) and for God . Its not a sick bag you need after hearing that its Valium/Mogadon and anti radiation tablets. In any case projections by competent engineers predict fracking will run out in the US by the mid -2020,s not 30/50 years as unlike normal wells which slowly decline fracking ones suddenly drop in output and he is reviving coal as we speak . You have got to say he is doing a “Grand Day Out “better than Wallace + Grommet -all hail the Flag-hand on heart we are part of the US just not citizens yet.

Guest
Norman Hawkins says:
7 July 2017

Due to the conflict with those who wished to subjugate with their ideologies that conflicted with our higher values of life i very seldom saw my Father during the war depriving us both of what should have been natural parent child love and family life.
We had to shelter many nights under the stairs afraid that the bombers were going to hit us. Thank god we survived.
Life was a struggle in the post war years but we survived.
We had a Labour government that plundered the wealth, what little we had, of the country be we were able through a democratic procedure to remove them,
WE had further austerity but we survived.
We were given an option to join the european union falsely presented to us but through democracy we were able to remove Ted Heath and his odious ways and later we were presented with Blair lies and falsehoods who strove to further integrate us into Europe.
Through democracy we were fortunate to remove him.
As regards to Europe we have lost our right to rule ourselves but are governed bu unelected eurocrats riding on one of the richest gravy trains in the world and as a member we can d nothing about it.
Kinnock, Blair, Mandleson et al whilst sitting in ivory towers drawing a million a more annually in salaries and perks annually who do not know what it is like to have a J O B consider themselves superior to us would do anything to reverse our voices so they can stay with their chums whilst we sheeple have to continue to work to pay for their fat lives.
Just too damn right the ordinary people who voted to leave should have a say in the negotiations over Brexit

Guest
Wilfred Aspinall says:
7 July 2017

I am uncertain what Peter means in his letter to David Davis. Yes consumers will have to pay any bills but in order for Which to have a voice in any Forum it needs to explicitly declare whether it has a policy to be in favour or against leaving the EU. Specifically whether on leaving the EU the Internal Market [the single market], customs union, will be extinguished. That we are not subservient to the ECJ and we are in control of our own laws and regulations affecting standards for the production and marketing of products and services. Also in control of immigration and our borders

The 17.4m who voted to LEAVE the EU need to know that Which is representing them. Recent opinion polls demonstrate that would be the same result if a referendum was carried out now

In other words has WHICH got a mandate

Guest
stephen goodger says:
7 July 2017

Just to say i absolutely agree with L Hughes that is the main reason i voted out of the eu in hopes this country would revert back to when it was truly great we led the world in steel industry ship building mechanical and civil engineering education health care. etc so a cheer for L Hughes .

Guest
Ed Kelly says:
7 July 2017

Which should apply to give evidence to the relevant select committees of both houses of parliament as soon as they are reconstituted.

Guest
Alice Lee-Thornton says:
7 July 2017

I note that this discussion went round the mulberry bush via the USofA but eventually came back again! I voted to remain since there was clearly no Plan B. Pro- Brexiters were fed a persuasive diet of lies and Xenophobia, the master-chef being N. Farage.
However, since nearly 50% of us have to accept the inevitable, we consumers certainly need a voice. After all, we are the ones who have to underwrite the expensive mess that the govt. has got us into. God forbid that the richest 1% should suffer in any way.
PS At nearly 80, I remember better times too! Shall we be “great again”?? Not while we’re the laughing-stock of the world!

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Guest

Wise words Alice Britain had its glory of KIng-Country and Commonwealth , previous was Rome , the originator of the idea , then the USA as “The Empire ” imposing a Unipolar world on us all -obey or——. But now the “Twilight Years ” of the USA have arrived and they are on a downward slope and like all Empires send out armies to quell any opposition but Russia/China have said – Multipolar world and set up world trade/economic/militaristic blocks like the BRICS and others relating to China . You’re not on !! shouts the USA and as it is censored here its now just a few minutes on the “Doomsday Clock ” to the “off ” as they would rather end it all than allow any opposition .

Guest
TREVOR HEYWOOD says:
7 July 2017

Yes I think it is essential that the consumer is properly represented during the Brexit discussions and I support WHICH being involved. I am concerned that the understanding of the word “negotiate” is realistically shared across Europe. What happens if we do not achieve a satisfactory settlement?

Guest
JC says:
7 July 2017

What was the original question?

Guest
Doug Ward says:
7 July 2017

I voted no at the very beginning.
I voted to stay in the second.
Yes “WHICH” should be representing the ORDINARY PEOPLE!
I believe in our DEMOCRACY.
What should be happening we all should know what our Government is planning!
This is not a CARD GAME OR RUSSIAN REULET!
THIS IS ALL OUR LIVES THIS TORY GOVERNMENT IS PLAYING WITH all parties should be involved in negotiations!

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Guest

Doug, I agree with your comments. Brexit has developed into an economic war so it would be sensible to have a government coalition as was the case during WW2. There is no place for UK political party rivalry when there is a economic war on.

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Guest

I agree, Dave. We need to pull together at a difficult time and political allegiance can bring out the worst in people.

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Guest

Your asking a lot Wavechange from people who have suffered greatly from government action on welfare and you want those that are poor to vote for TM and her government because she has already said she will not bend or buckle and will not listen to some of her own cabinet, how much less the Labour party ? and the SNP say they wont work with the Tories and Sinn Fein +Fianna Fail threaten to attend Westminster. Look what happened at the end of WW2 .

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Guest

I would have preferred all parties to have had an input in our departure from Europe. It’s high time we had proportional representation, but for the time being we will have to make do with a minority government.

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Guest

The Scottish Nationalist Party’s success at the 2015 election altered the arithmetic of the House of Commons and, notwithstanding some losses at the 2017 election, it is still a major bloc, so minority government by the party with the highest number of seats could become the norm, and coalitions by name or function will become necessary. Not very strong and stable perhaps but it does have the advantage of restraining the extreme elements in a party [unless self-destruction is their intention] and tending towards a more moderate form of government. This, however, as we have already seen, can lead to weakness and an unadventurous legislative programme. I think the present situation will go down in history as one of the biggest political blunders of all time. The PM has ended up with none of the things she wanted, most of the things she didn’t want, wasted some good MP’s in the process, and now goes naked into the chambers of Europe. I am not a doom monger by inclination but I cannot see this as sustainable. The UK now presents a despicable posture propped up by the oily hand of Donald Trump [and we all know where that has been].

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Guest

I understand and share your concerns, John, but for the sake of stability in an uncertain time, the last thing we need is for the ‘extreme elements’ to command attention of the public.

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Guest

Wavechange in this case I agree with John whom presents a very reasonable, practical viewpoint on the issue and his pronouncements tally with the reality of the situation . Whether it can be achieved is another matter as there are some very fixed political viewpoints on offer totally divergent in most areas , even if TM “went ” the other Cabinet members dont have radically opposing views from her just variations on a theme .

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Guest

I find it difficult to relate to politics, Duncan. It has been decided that we should leave Europe, but we are reliant on many politicians who were opposed to this and we have to hope that they will act in the best interests of the country.

Guest
James Monaghan says:
7 July 2017

​Is the Nasty EUSSR Parliament representative of you​?

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Guest

I’ve not heard of the Nasty EUSSR Parliament – where does it operate?

But back on topic – in my experience – including the lobbying of MEPs, the European Parliament has done a good enough job as a representative body.

However, the European Commission is another story…

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Guest

Due to the conflict with those who wished to subjugate with their ideologies that conflicted with our higher values of life i very seldom saw my Father during the war depriving us both of what should have been natural parent child love and family life.
We had to shelter many nights under the stairs afraid that the bombers were going to hit us. Thank god we survived.
Life was a struggle in the post war years but we survived.
We had a Labour government that plundered the wealth, what little we had, of the country be we were able through a democratic procedure to remove them,
WE had further austerity but we survived.
We were given an option to join the european union falsely presented to us but through democracy we were able to remove Ted Heath and his odious ways and later we were presented with Blair lies and falsehoods who strove to further integrate us into Europe.
Through democracy we were fortunate to remove him.
As regards to Europe we have lost our right to rule ourselves but are governed bu unelected eurocrats riding on one of the richest gravy trains in the world and as a member we can d nothing about it.
Those odious creatures, Kinnock, Blair, Mandleson et al whilst sitting in ivory towers drawing a million a more annually in salaries and perks annually who do not know what it is like to have a J O B consider themselves superior to us would do anything to reverse our voices so they can stay with their chums whilst we sheeple have to continue to work to pay for their fat lives.
Just too damn right the ordinary people who voted to leave should have a say in the negotiations over Brexit

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Guest

Norman Hawkins says:Today 17:34
Due to the conflict with those who wished to subjugate with their ideologies that conflicted with our higher values of life i very seldom saw my Father during the war depriving us both of what should have been natural parent child love and family life.
We had to shelter many nights under the stairs afraid that the bombers were going to hit us. Thank god we survived.
Life was a struggle in the post war years but we survived.
We had a Labour government that plundered the wealth, what little we had, of the country be we were able through a democratic procedure to remove them,
WE had further austerity but we survived.
We were given an option to join the european union falsely presented to us but through democracy we were able to remove Ted Heath and his odious ways and later we were presented with Blair lies and falsehoods who strove to further integrate us into Europe.
Through democracy we were fortunate to remove him.
As regards to Europe we have lost our right to rule ourselves but are governed bu unelected eurocrats riding on one of the richest gravy trains in the world and as a member we can d nothing about it.
Kinnock, Blair, Mandleson et al whilst sitting in ivory towers drawing a million a more annually in salaries and perks annually who do not know what it is like to have a J O B consider themselves superior to us would do anything to reverse our voices so they can stay with their chums whilst we sheeple have to continue to work to pay for their fat lives.
Just too damn right the ordinary people who voted to leave should have a say in the negotiations over Brexit

Guest
Allen Williams says:
7 July 2017

It is perfectly simple. Business is pressurizing the Government over the terms of Brexit; so should consumer organizations. The view of business is rarely congruent with that of the consumer. The consumer wants quality products at low prices, whereas business wants the least disruption possible to their existing trading links, and will ignore consumer interests which lie with the expanded international free trade that should follow leaving the EU.

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Guest

I agree with your analysis Allen.

The bottom line is that in a capitalist system, sorry to introduce the term, we need to have successful companies selling goods and employing workers [consumers].

Civil servants, journalists, newscasters etc produce no outputs of value but can exist because the money pump to pay for them is production and services that we can sell internally and to the world.

We have to be realistic about this simple fact – trade is what pays. Who pays calls the tune .

The role of Which? or other charities cannot be to sit at the top table and be part of the solution presented to the people [us]. What charities need to do is draw the lines in the sand when the Government tries to use the Brexit negotiations as an excuse for attacking the NHS , or worsening protective laws.

Part of the line-drawing is surely to educate the public on the potential outcomes and dangers. In this respect Which? was a total failure when TTIP was a possibility and Brussels swarmed with company lobbyists Which? said nowt.

I very much fear that getting too close to Govt. may weaken severely the ability to criticise openly when and if there are unacceptable moves that adversely affect consumers.

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I cannot see why it is necessary to discriminate between charities and other organisations that represent consumer interests.Personally,I find continuing references to ‘the charity’ [i.e. Which?] distracting and confusing. I understand the implications of a charitable structure and its obligations but I don’t see that as being especially relevant in this discussion. There are various organisations with charitable, non-charitable, ethical, friendly, voluntary, not-for-profit status,and in other ways independent of government, that can contribute , and if we are not careful they will take Which?’s seat at any table.

I am also not sure of what “getting too close to Govt.” implies. This is about trying to get a place at “a business forum designed to ensure that the Government’s negotiating position on Brexit reflects the needs of the economy“. The Which? CEO says the Secretary of State “should now invite consumer representatives, such as Which?, to join this critical forum“. “Critical” in both senses of the word I hope. I don’t think this stance is evidence of any complicity with the government. Which? can take its own minutes of any meeting and challenge any spin or misrepresentation that might be put on the discussions.

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JW-

Firstly . As you may know the ability for charities to be active in a “political” way has been affected by recent legislation which does make them different from the other variety of groups you describe but do not elucidate who they actually are. I am a little surprised you do not add that MP’s should also be representing consumer interests.

Secondly. “and if we are not careful they will take Which?’s seat at any table.” If you recall the Government got Which? to chair a committee on Direct Marketing which eventually produced a toothless report which seemed more to represent the views of the Direct Marketing industry rather than that of consumers .

The desire to be seen as important seems to be the main driver for this letter. Surely a rational man would see that the chances of affecting the negotiations are laughfully unlikely inside the system and Which? is better off outside being able to criticise as the leaks appear rather than stifled from commenting as an insider to the process.

In case it helps appreciate the immediate threats I would suggest bouncing into a trade treaty with the US a la TTIP is perhaps the most immediate danger to the British consumer.

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Thanks, Patrick.

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Much of our industry has been moved to other European countries with EU money for which we should be getting compensation as part of the negotiations.

One thing the government should be doing is getting industry working in this country again and importantly, British owned. We should not be relying on trade deals to support ourselves but creating products that we and other countries want, training and jobs for the unemployed, employment in areas of high unemployment, giving people back their dignity and hope for the future.

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Agree on the industry Alfa , in my view to have any chance of making this country “Great” again it isn’t running it as a service industry but as an industrialized country and, sorry I keep bringing this up, that goes entirely against the “ethics ” of the City and big banks . You will notice on this Brexit convo the number of posters who say just that. Your comment that — giving people back their Dignity and Hope for the future is a Classic and should be framed and put in the entrance to the Houses of Parliament , as MP,s who SHOULD be representing US walk in because that is at the heart and soul of every decent Briton in this country

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I would love to see a return to the days when every washing machine, television, motor car, and piece of furniture, as well as all the linens, clothing and accessories for domestic life were produced here, plus all the machine tools and equipment for factories, offices and shops. Wouldn’t we all? But nobody has come up with the slightest idea of how we can achieve that .

Unfortunately, the decision to outsource so much of our consumption was taken by British traders and retailers, designers and manufacturers who saw an easy way out from difficult labour forces, outdated plant and equipment, high wages and tax obligations, and a generally inflexible industrial infrastructure.

Today the manufacturing industries we are left with, apart from a number of hi-tech concerns whose primary stock-in-trade is intellectual property rather than the hardware, are those where the goods are too heavy or bulky to economically shift half way round the world, like building materials,or, like foodstuffs, have rapid turnover and use home-grown ingredients, or like pharmaceuticals, are closely linked to the U K’s research strengths. Most of the rest of ‘heavy’ industry is fabrication and assembly using imported components.

Even entrepreneurs who have developed British products and manufactured them here have transferred production overseas [Dyson, for example].

Having said all that, there is still a surprisingly large industrial and manufacturing base in the UK but it is not concentrated in massive plants employing thousands of workers so it does not have the profile of our historical background. But that was a time when we had Commonwealth countries and colonies that would, before we joined the EU, instinctively buy British capital goods in return for our buying their wool, butter, fruit, meat, vegetables, cotton, coffee and tea.

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Duncan – What on earth is wrong with service industries? We used to insure the world, and could do so again – modern communications technology would make it even easier. We can [and do] make TV programmes that are very popular around the globe. Publishing, law. media, accountancy,design, education, architecture, engineering, medial science and lots of other consultancy professions are service industries that could grow stronger and develop further internationally. Our great advantage in service industry expansion is the English language which takes us into more markets than any other, even into Russia and China. I always look on the bright side of life.

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However much we might hanker for the days of when most goods were made in the UK, it is not going to happen. There are reasons why we stopped making cars, washing machines and electronic goods and they still apply. There is still a place for high quality specialist products and for consumer goods that a minority are prepared to pay for in this country and abroad. I support what John has said in his last two posts. I have no problem with skilled people working in service industries and hope that the future of the UK will involve focus on allowing our citizens to work to their potential rather than working on the assembly lines of washing machine manufacturers.

I hope that those involved in the negotiations will focus on trade opportunities that will help us realise our potential.

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John, I grew up in an industrial town that probably had near 100% employment. Now, the industries have gone, that town is dead with too many people on the dole and no hope for employment unless they move. I don’t know the answer, but investment has to be made. Does the government keep paying benefits or would money be better spent getting people off benefits? Our wheelie bins are made in Germany, why can’t they be made here?

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John as always you sound reasonable and that has more of an influence on me than outright opposition as its intellectually thought out. You have a point I wont deny it that successive governments have decided to “go ” for this course of action and from what I know London/The City actually control a lot of the US economy , to the anger of some US citizens who know how “things work ” but “Greatness ” is only achieved from a very strong industrial base like China/Germany and even Russia and by doing so invest in people not off-shore entities /money laundering etc . It provides jobs for the population including young people so is futuristic , it puts hard cash into people pockets so they spend more on goods so boosting the economy of the country , cuts down on welfare spending as people have employment , but as far as the government is concerned , puts power into the public’s hands — and we cant have that can we ?

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I agree, Alfa, that not enough was done to support those industrial areas that suffered mercilessly from industrial decline. The government never decided to send production elsewhere, but it had a responsibility to deal with the recovery, and it funked it. The prevailing attitude was “get on your bike”.

Not all industries are resilient and heavy manufacturing, steel-making, chemicals, shipbuilding, mining, glass-making, etc, are usually locked into their locations due to their proximity to raw materials or established infrastructure, However, other forms of employment like public services, hospitals, prisons, offices, laboratories, educational establishments, light engineering, food manufacturing, military bases, and all manner of other service industries, could have been incentivised to relocate from over-populated metropolitan areas. But apart from setting up a few enterprise zones and retail parks – and virtually useless employment projects stuffed with management consultants – the government didn’t do it; no government since the early 1970’s.

Service industries also create employment for armies of lower-skilled workers in support services, supplies, maintenance, administration, haulage, and public services. There are many examples around the country where there was a male-dominated primary industry with alongside it a textile mill, or processing plant, or consumer goods assembly line, to provide a full range of occupations for the whole family. We should have built on that tradition but didn’t.
The trouble is we have lost too much and cannot recover lost ground, so we had better make the best of where we are.

In many cases the jobs we have lost were labour-intensive, hard, dirty, hazardous, and under-rewarded, and the places that provided them were polluting, unhealthy, and damaging to our waterways and countryside. New industries and services will need a well-educated highly-skilled and adaptable workforce. That is our biggest current challenge and I am not sure we have cracked it yet.

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I agree with you, Duncan, and we could have it .

China is losing its competitive edge as labour problems, remuneration issues, and western environmental obligations undermine their unique selling point – an infinite supply of undemanding workers and an irresponsible attitude to the environment.

I don’t like some of the connotations of being “Great” so for me that is not an aspiration.

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European legislation has done a great deal to protect the environment in this overpopulated country and most people don’t know much about this. Others may be concerned about financial matters but clean air and water and food that is free from hazardous chemicals are more important in my book.

I do hope that we can retain existing environmental protection and improve it for the benefit of our citizens.

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I used “Great ” John because several posters on this convo brought it up and many poster want the UK to be “the country it once was ” , I know what you are getting at but this country always was and always will be “nationalistic ” and much as its denied has a lot of the same tendencies as the German physic hence the unashamed comments on Germany+Germans which do have some substance as Germany has always stated -it is the biggest economy , the hardest working, the more dedicated etc and no I haven’t taken that from Mein Kampf (my struggle/war ) but from modern day German opinion . They feel they are “natural leaders ” as this country does and being honest both countries have that National Personality built in besides their normal personalities its what makes each nation individualistic , that wont change . To me it still shows through that this small island nation has so much influence in the World that even Germany didn’t want it to depart and both it and France admitted the EU would “not be the same ” without this country .You cant help being what you are its a basic personality function .

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I just want us to remain a united kingdom through which we might achieve greatness if our endeavours succeed.

I cannot assess the psyche of other countries’ citizens but the beauty of having four nations within one realm is that we can play out any ‘nationalistic’ fantasies amongst ourselves without upsetting the rest of the world.

The mainland was called Great Britain for geographical reasons, not on account of global eminence. Northern Ireland is not part of Great Britain which is why United Kingdom is the better name. “Great” was used by Victorian companies [such as the Great Northern Railway which wasn’t great at all] to impress people with their supposed size and power but it was usually an arrogance and I regard it as such today. The less said about European perceptions of greatness and leadership the better I think!

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Some areas that suffered decline due to the demise of heavy industry re-invented themselves and moved with the times. I cite Corby as a good example.

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What we have always been good at in the UK is innovation, whether in products or services. Finance, shipbuilding, hovercraft, jet engine, jet airliner, stainless steel, pharmaceuticals ……. Where we have fallen down is in properly developing those products for our own benefit, perhaps because we have given away the technology or not had the investment to properly capitalise on them, and others have taken the initiative overseas. We still innovate and need the support to develop new ideas – from the government but also from private investors. Investment involves risk – high with new innovations – but if successful can lead to very profitable enterprises for the benefit of all. Incentives for us to invest in innovation would help and incentives to manufacture in the UK.

Guest
John says:
8 July 2017

Everybody and his dog want their “say” in Brexit. If we’re not careful we’ll end up with a dog’s breakfast that nobody wants. The negotiators have their brief, let them get on with it. We can always do the finer adjustments once we’re free of Europe’s over-weaning interference in our sovereign affairs.

Guest
David Reston says:
9 July 2017

yes. I support your motion and would urge you to redraft the letter to David Davies, M P, in more robust term.

The European Directive on Consumer Protection and the E & W Consumer Protection Act , together with the mass of CPA group litigations in, for instance, metal in metal (MoM) hip impl serve to illustrate the confusion and weaknesses that presently exist in this area of commercial / legal activity.

David Reston

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The postings here so far do not appear to take in to account the extreme technicalities in negotiating us leaving the EU, the single market, the customs union and the many other treaties that are part of the “EU”.
So I am not convinced that Which? would be a meaningful contributor to the process. Most of the work will be carried out by civil servants, who are experts in their field. “Negotiations” will be carried out by politicians trying to make a name for themselves by not falling flat on their faces. The whole process will be spun with the collusion of the media that will give us the sound bites but not the whole picture just as they did before the referendum. During that time it took me many hours of study to investigate the different treaties like Maastricht treaty, the Amsterdam Treaty and the Lisbon treaty. They all need to be taken into account before we leave the EU officially at the end of March 2019. Most of the work will be legal disentanglement. The major things that need negotiation will be how we can continue to buy and sell to the 27 remaining EU members and how much we need to pay to relinquish the financial we have committed to.

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Greytech how many times in political history has the civil service overruled a government ? If the civil service doesn’t do as its told by the existing government department heads are removed and a political appointee who is usually part of the government or favourable to their point of view is installed. Once installed the governments political agenda is carried out . This was blown up in the media many times in the past decades where (in the governments view) existing heads of departments pursued a more independent which usually amounted to a “left-wing agenda ” .The original idea of civil service “independence ” was therefore overruled in favour of existing government policy. Whatever way you look at this are you going to say the civil service will pursue an independent agenda that the government will accept ? They can only take care of the basics of the legal agreement in relation to laws that are not controversial to the political theme of the government who are the final arbiters in coming to an agreement as its the government that has been elected by the people and the MP,s (in government ) rule the nation by proxy of the voting public majority . The CS cant usurp the government so the blame at the end of the day cant be levied at the CS just so it gets the government “off the hook ” in a tight situation.

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That’s right, Greytech, but the government and the civil servants still need to know what consumers wish them to negotiate for, and Which? is best placed to provide that input. You never get a second chance to make a first impression – trying to peck at the fruits of the negotiations won’t look good and there probably won’t be time for that anyway.

Guest
Patrick Taylor says:
11 July 2017

” but the government and the civil servants still need to know what consumers wish them to negotiate for, and Which? is best placed to provide that input.”

I was curious as to the reasons you feel this to be true. My impression is that consumers are generally badly informed on Brexit matters and particularly trade regulations. I would think both Which? and the Govt. use the same survey companies so any results are I expect are down to artful construction of the questions.

Genuinely the public appear to have only a few sacrosanct cows and the primary one of those is the NHS. Any diminishing of consumer protections and regulations I cannot see logically following on from negotiations on access and tariffs with the EU.

Where consumers may feel a pinch will be on prices – particularly food prices and though it is a consumer matter it is subordinate to the overall negotiations which are of course a political matter.

Previously JW you talked of other bodies being “at the table” and I was wondering who they were and whether they could possibly be more or less effective. However as I think that any effect would be near zero I was left wondering whether there is any point that becoming part of the process is a good thing.

Perhaps “bodies” should be looking at the foreseeable fall-out and preparing useful contingency plans, and even plans which have a current application.

The trade treaty with the US I think will be struck quickly for political expediency and will be a much greater threat to the established systems and regulations of the UK. The fear must be that it will be a form of TTIP substantially already agreeable to the big businesses that lobbied so very hard in Brussels – and of course with the certainty that WTO will be the supreme arbiter of what is and is not allowed under its terms.

On a more immediate and practical note –

It is fairly well-established that many many people live in houses that require significant energy to keep to the temperatures recommended by WHO. Against a backdrop of falling real incomes and expected energy price rises should organisations like Which? be doing practical activities to soften the blow.

Previously I have outlined various options to lower heating bills where guidance would be very useful. I note that the air exchange units have been a building requirement in France since 1982. You may well think that there should be some adequate research showing the efficiency or otherwise of these systems and the usefulness in a UK setting. I note UK manufacturers such as Nuaire are claiming up to 95% heat recovery and good air quality.

Making the building stock more airtight has knock-on effects on the air quality we breathe and the moisture level and moulds in houses. Given all consumers live in houses and pay to heat perhaps Which? could focus rapidly and with vigour on an area where we could all benefit before the final break.

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I will add a “thumbs up ” to your post Patrick , I have commented before a few times on the TTIP situation and to me , this is one of the biggest National Calamities that could take place since the Norman Conquest and our whole National Identity and Legislation going back in history long, long before the USA was “invented ” .It is the first step in actual subversion of this countries basic laws of Freedom and Justice which the imposing country , the USA would never allow in a million years to happen in the USA . Can you imagine the Senate – what !!! let those “dastardly” Brits RUN our country what do think we fought the War of Independence for !! I know American thinking –never happen but its okay to run our country as a satrap ?? if that happens then this country is no country I will be proud of . Big Business dictating local BRITISH voted on policies ?? The Donald is said to be against globalisation , seemingly it doesn’t apply to “running ” another country through global businesses corp. USA . I dont care what apologies or excuses are forthcoming this is an “invasion ” in one sense. Why not just be honest and say-okay folks we are giving Britain to the USA because thats exactly what our Nuke sub commanders are told to do when ww3 starts in “secret ” documents.

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I would trust Which? to know what consumers want and don’t want out of Brexit, Patrick, without having to go round and ask them.

I am always in favour of anything that makes space heating more efficient, economical and sustainable. All residential properties need controllable ventilation; currently a large number of them seem to have uncontrollable ventilation that is unhealthy. For a long time I have advocated treating older properties with cheap and effective insulation and draught-proofing that might not be the unaffordable best but will produce good returns. I would certainly welcome Which? giving this topic more than the usual cursory coverage; it could run for a year with each issue of the magazine tackling a different aspect over three or four pages. There would still be room for shoe polish and vinaigrette.

Guest
Patrick Taylor says:
11 July 2017

JW – Your faith is interesting. I think there are some very good people at Which? but I think that is a very big ask. I am finding currently even with Ordinary Members I get a range of opinions some of which are completely opposite on very simple matter like a twice yearly conclave of “regional represesentatives” and Council. Light year simpler than Brexit.

I support your concept totally. Whilst blaming the local energy providers is easy and emotive the world market in fuel is actual the main driver of price. Australia is just about to significantly up its prices by up to 20% for electricity and gas yet is one of the world’s largest exporter of natural gas.
choice.com.au/shopping/shopping-for-services/utilities/articles/electricity-prices-to-increase-july-220617

Que Choisir actually ran a “test” based on some firms advising on the best insulation/heat tech for four real houses around France. A genuine expert than took the advice and shredded most of it. A very big article but then big costs and important implications.

Choice in Australia have just rubbished electricity generation with battery storage suggesting waiting two/ three years for cheaper and better batteries. And of course they had to account for the vastness of Australia and differing climates.

There is a lot of mileage in these matters given most people live in houses. I suppose down in London renting is more common and these matters less important.

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Yes Patrick and that is why I dont understand being criticised for commenting on the International situation on many topics when its impossible to ignore it for practical economic reasons that directly effect the Nation. Even if globalisation didn’t exist because most of our industry (whats left of it ) and utility,s are foreign owned and supplied and if you dont agree with that give me the long list of what we are totally self-sufficient in ? Certainly not food just ask the NFU or the SFU who in the Guardian front page say they stand to lose 100,s of millions of £££££ in EU subsidies just ask Professor Graeme Roy of the Fraser of Allander Institute. Saying to me– stick to our own country is meaningless when not even our own government does that .

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Dont ever ask me to accept -onesidedness, exclusivity, one law for one person and another for somebody else ,partialism ,or the evil word from the USA which I hate -exceptionalism. . I want make it plain from now on anybody criticising me on this issue expect some pretty strong flack back !!!

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Wrong positioning – reposted as a reply.

Guest
Stuart Chalmers says:
10 July 2017

Personally I think the whole Brexit thing is a massive waste of time that will result in few benefits, great cost, it will take many years to recover from it and a lot of people will suffer for it. I hope it will get ditched but in the meantime if we are forced to do it then I think we every relevant party should be represented!

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The latest news Stuart is that HMG were hoping for help in getting a good deal from German manufacturers influencing the Bundestag but the comment coming out of Germany is that “hang the industrialists ” its principles that count and the other members left so they still intend to “make an example ” of the UK.

Guest
Jack Whyatt says:
10 July 2017

After reading your flyer about consumer needs ,Just like all the media and anti Tory interferers you are also on the bandwagon wanting to put your 2 pennyworth into the hat. What kind of negotiation do you think you could improve things Just shut up and let the poor woman do what she can to get us out of the mess you are all creating and show a bit of back bone instead of moaning. You were not elected and neither were were you ever asked to interfere in negotiations
Regards. an 83 year old who still has a bit of faith

Jack Whyatt.