/ Travel & Leisure

What happens to vital consumer protections after Brexit?

Many areas of our lives, including healthcare abroad, keeping our homes warm and travel rights, are protected by EU laws that need much greater attention during Brexit negotiations. That’s why we’ve launched our Consumer Charter.

Politicians have been playing Punch and Judy over Brexit for the past 18 months – and it’s true that there is plenty to fight about. Yet for all the undoubted drama, some of the most important issues affecting our lives in this country have barely been discussed.

New Brexit charter for consumers

These issues include the EU rules that ensure imported food is safe, that give us access to vital healthcare for ourselves and our children in neighbouring countries, and which give us cheap phone calls abroad. Even airline travel would, for a while at least, become extremely difficult.

That’s why today we’ve launched our Consumer Charter – and called on the government to embrace our blueprint for protecting our rights.

We want to work with ministers and with businesses to stop important consumer rights from being diluted or, worse still, lost entirely if negotiations go badly wrong.

Flight confusion

We recently contacted the UK’s five biggest travel companies (Thomas Cook, TUI, Jet 2, Expedia, and On the Beach) to see what information they were providing about the possible status of flights being booked for travel after the UK has left the EU. We found that it wasn’t clear what the consequences of an aviation deal not being in place once the UK leaves the EU would be.

This could leave holidaymakers who are booking holidays from 29 March 2019 in limbo. We want the government to make sure the same level of access is maintained after Brexit and provide clarity as soon as possible about consumers’ rights and airline obligations.

Time to work together

This uncertainty for holidaymakers is just one of the many issues affecting our everyday lives that needs to be a priority as we move closer to the date that we leave the EU. We want to work with government and businesses on these issues to help deliver a Brexit that puts consumers first.

This is not to reach a judgment about a hard Brexit, a soft Brexit or any kind of Brexit. Just a plea that the interests of ordinary consumers get the priority they deserve.

At a minimum, we should fight to maintain what we currently have in place in all areas that affect consumers. In an ideal world, we will improve the situation of consumers.

Consumer needs must come first

Which? research has shown that many people haven’t really considered any of these issues. Our fear is that some of our politicians haven’t sufficiently considered them, either. And we cannot sweep these critical consumer issues under the carpet and just expect everything to work out.

We have set out a Charter that we believe will put consumers first in Brexit negotiations and provides solutions on what can be done to improve how our systems currently work.

The Charter sets out more detailed priorities that need immediate action from government to make Brexit a success. These concentrate on the areas of consumer landscape, food, energy, travel and transition – highlighting not just the potential risks for consumers, but the opportunities to improve our existing systems as we leave the EU.

What are your views?

Do you support our Charter? What consumer issues would you like the government to address in its negotiations?

This is an edited version of an article that recently appeared on This is Money.


I disagree with you, John, for the following reasons.
1) The UK tried three times to join the EEC and were successful at the third attempt in 1973. There was a referendum in 1975 as to whether we wished to continue, and the vote in favour of staying in the EEC was 67.2% (not 60%) with 32.8% against.
2) I am not sure that you can claim that ‘most ordinary voters’ saw the main reason for joining the EU as simply having access to a market of goods. There were a number of reasons, including valuing the EEC as a way of bringing countries together economically and politically to end the wars between them: this was the original aim when the European Coal and Steel Community was set up in 1950. This was also one of the reasons articulated by the Remain campaign which was important to many of us.
3) We are not a ‘virtual colony’ but one of the most powerful countries in the EU with a voice to which others have listened. We have negotiated a number of ‘opt-outs’ for the UK where we disagreed with the way things were done. We had the structures available to us within the EU to limit immigration if we had chosen to use them – but our governments did not make that choice.
4) The EU is not interested in ‘conquering us’ but in working with us. When it comes to the history of the last few centuries, Britain has done plenty of conquering of other countries itself, so we are by no means squeaky clean in this regard. Indeed, we have ‘conquered’ more countries than the rest of the EU put together.
5) We did not vote ‘clearly’ to leave the EU two years ago. The vote was very close. In many countries, such a narrow majority would not be regarded as definitive. Only 37% of those eligible to vote, voted to leave the EU. Scotland and Northern Ireland voters voted to remain. Over 700,000 British citizens who live in Europe as part of our EU right to do so were not even given the chance to vote.
I realise you may not agree with me, and I would always uphold your right to do so.

Alexa, I agree with you on every single point.
In addition the referendum was badly planned and rushed through (10 weeks?) because David Cameron wanted to silence his euro-sceptic MPs and never thought the vote would go the way it did. When Scotland held a similar referendum they allowed about a year for argument and debate between announcing it and the actual vote. Thereby all the claims and counterclaims could be tested. In our case there was only time for a bunch of dubious claims and fear campaigns by both sides which were never properly examined. We voted at the height of the panic.

This lack of preparation is further borne out by the fact that the government had absolutely no plans in place as to what to do in the event of a leave vote. They were caught completely flat footed.

We now have the situation where we should have had a clear set of understandings and treaties in place to allow us to leave in an orderly fashion, but instead it’s a complete shambles with a new set of white papers coming out saying what will happen if there is no deal. They make “Project Fear” look like a walk in the park. On top of that the Conservatives only remain on power by the grace of the DUP (and a big bribe) who want an open trade border with the republic that would breach WTO rules once we left.

I could rant on, but you get where I’m coming from.

The Electorate of this Country were lied to on at least two occasions by both main political parties by Harold Wilson, Ted Heath and others. Labour party workers were being misled right up to the night of one election over the Europe issue.

People at the time voted for entry to a Common Market covering trade in the main at the time not a Political Union and not a Common Currency. Charles De Gaulle continually resisted British attempts to become a member because he suspected that the British would never rest comfortably with what Jacque Delors was about to foist on the existing countries of the Union.
How right he was, the short termist remainers need to start looking well beyond the next generation and think about what would become of this Nation in fifty-one hundred years time. Those generations would be asking why we were so shortsighted to remain aligned to an Organisation run without accountability to the people of Europe.
Our original entry to Europe has always been based on a series of lies perpetrated by Politicians across the board, it continues now and it is to be hoped that the Referendum vote will once and for all be respected even at this late stage.

I’m sorry, but two wrongs don’t make a right. In any case we were not lied to about entry as the Common Market was just that at the time, a trading partnership. It didn’t become the EU for another 20 years in 1993. But we were lied to by the brexit campaign who made all sorts of promises (remember £350M for the NHS) that have proved to be false. At least the supposed lies of “Project Fear” by the remain campaign seem to be coming true with the latest set of white papers on a no deal brexit.

What is so wrong with collaborating with other European countries? Surely a united states of Europe is far better than the previous setup that brought us a thousand years of wars culminating in WW1 & 2. At least if we remain we can have a big influence on the way it’s run, outside we will have none but still have to abide by some of its rules.

Those future generations may well end up asking why we left a prosperous, united organisation to become a backwater island living in poverty. You just can’t predict 50 – 100 years into the future.

Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

I agree with Alexa and pjaj but I’m afraid I think that Philip has rather missed the point. The European Economic Community (EEC) which in the UK was known as the Common Market & was enthusiastically voted for, has never been a Political Union.
It is a group of neighbouring nations who are independent entities (with their individual parliaments) and work together for the benefit of all. By working together we can achieve far more than we can alone. We have developed common safety standards, environmental standards, common financial systems, joint scientific projects eg: Gallileo,we can trade seamlessly without tariffs between EU members, as a group we are able to access new markets, criminals do not respect borders & combined policing is easier, reciprocal benefits eg the EHIC (European health card), free movement for study, work & tourism are all benefits throughout the EU in addition to the peace & prosperity we have enjoyed as members of the EU.
I think the European Parliament can confuse people who think that “The EU is trying to rule us” and” we can’t anything without the EU agreeing”. This leads to the “Take Back Control” mindset. In fact the European Parliament is made up of representatives from all the member nations. We periodically vote for local MEPs ( Members of the European Parliament) as well as MPs. After discussion by the appropriate experts who agree the common standards (eg: financial) each government must agree before it is ratified in the European Parliament.
Thus each individual nation has a voice throughout the process.

Tony Pitt says:
25 September 2018

I think that we were lied to by the leave group, they told us lies from the start about how easy it would be, in fact its any thing but, my main concern about leaving is our food standards being lowered( chlorinated chicken, hormone injected beef from the US), and our NHS being sold off to big health companies, workers rights being pushed aside,
And all the protection that we get from being in the EU being lost, many jobs going abroad unless we get a good deal and the affect this will have on our young people in the future.

James says:
19 October 2018

This decision was made with no knowledge of the consequences that will impact on our society in a very negative way. Vote in haste repent at leisure.

People like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris the mop will not suffer if Brexit goes bad. They are rich and will ride the storm, but they have lied to and tricked many people into believing that Brexit will be good for the UK. I think it could well be the beginning of the end for the UK. I expect Scotland to leave the UK within 10 years after Brexit. I believe that Northern Ireland could well join Scotland. It’s possible that the Channel Islands, the Isle of Mann and even Gibraltar could align themselves with Scotland/Northern Ireland in a bid to re access the EU. England will become a little backwater. We are not Great any more and after Scotland goes we won’t even be Great Britain, just England possibly with Wales if they don’t leave as well. The decline and fall of a too proud and conceited nation because we believed the liars.

Company that quality controls oncology drugs manufactured in India and then distributes them around Britain and Europe is moving it’s activities to Portugal. 50 jobs will go, drugs will have to be imported.

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How can anyone vote to be a member of an organisation that has had its accounts qualified for the past 20 years plus – we would not accept that for our Government, why put up with it from the EU? There seems to be no effort made to ensure practices such as invalid claims, excessive claims, not only from the MEPs but also from supposed bone fide claimants are stopped. Could it be that the EU has no desire to try and curtail ‘the gravy train’?

Also, the EU presents its accounts way past what is deemed to be a reasonable time. It is outrageous that the EU lectures Britain when it cannot even get its own house in order.

And one should check to see what the EU did to the whistleblower who reported the fact about the accounts.

The sooner we leave, the better: deal or no deal.

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I’m not too bothered now, as my ration book arrived in this week’s post.

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. . . and I still have my Clothing Ration Book from 1947 with some unused coupons in it. I live in hope . . .

You could have underpants and vests then with the Utility label

I have, but they are getting to the point where I need to replace them before Brexit makes them unobtainable.

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“built like a tank. No wonder it was uncomfortable.

I’m too young to remember rationing but I do remember being sent coupons for petrol during the oil crisis in the early 70s. They were never used. I had a Honda C50 that achieved over 120 mpg.

Should’ve got a PHEV and got over 19000 miles on a gallon and a half or so. But I remember the ’70s and they had electricity power cuts…………………. 🙁

I have some petrol coupons as well so I am well prepared. It’s my unused London tram tickets that will probably not be much use in the future. I can’t tell you how I came to acquire a pristine bundle of them.

Perhaps the dried egg and dried milk will be released from the government’s emergency stores and the Green Goddess fire engines fettled up to quell the riots.

Luckily we have enough beer, wine and spirits in stock to see us through a difficult period.

The problems in the 70s helped me realise the need to be self-sufficient and I hope that I might manage to cope with shortages. Hopefully mobile broadband will still work in power cuts otherwise I might not be able to post on W?C. :-(.

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http://beef2live.com/story-beef-exports-country-year-date-0-109756 </I"U.S. beef exports up 12 percent so far in 2018
The United States has exported 2.63 billion pounds of beef so far in 2018, up 12.3% from 2017.
Japan is the top destination for U.S. beef exports so far in 2018 followed by South Korea & Mexico.
The United States has exported beef to 115 different countries so far in 2018”
including. 27 million lb to the Netherlands, 9.8m to Italy, 7.5m to Germany. this seems to conflict with the statement that the EU would stop buying British beef as the EU already buy USA beef. Or so it seems.

I am not commenting on the right and wrongs of hormone implanted beef but on the conclusion drawn re Brexit and a US/UK trade deal. https://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/ProductSafetyInformation/ucm055436.htm

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Duncan, I said it seems US beef is currently (well certainly to last year) imported into 3 EU countries.
As, presumably, the US (who are supposed to have vociferous consumers) consume large quantities of their home grown beef there should be ample evidence of any harm it causes. Perhaps someone could provide that information.

Albert says:
5 February 2019

We are in our 80’s, and consider that our standards of living were greatly improved by being members of the EU. Yes, there will always be laws that we don’t like – but isn’t that also the case with a number of our UK based laws? For ourselves, we would like to see Brexit collapse and things return to what we think of as “normal”. I cannot see any future in departing from what is factual inside the EU, and instead following a course based on fictional claims of alternative world markets waiting for us to join them.
People of the EU countries are our nearest natural cousins, and I find it difficult to understand why half of the UK people are dissatisfied with the standards and stability we enjoy by being a member state of the EU.

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SteveS says:
22 June 2019

I am coming into this debate 3 months after the last entry and ironically we should have already left but are again in limbo awaiting a new prime minister.Most of the arguments for remaining in the EU have come from thinking everything will remain the same.My main concern is that is not staying the same but more and more about the federalisation of Europe and only about expanding trade for a few.Quite a number of countries are in a very poor economic state,others are starting to go into recession.Then most of the countries admitted since the end of the nineties have extremely poor economies hence the influx to the UK where minimum wage jobs seem desirable compared to local earning ability.For some reason the UK was forced to change its child benefit rules whereby a UK citizen cannot claim for a child not resident in their household but an EU citizen can claim for a child living in their home country.but no check is made that a child benefit is not already paid in their home country.Receiving child benefit then qualifies the recipient for in work benfits like child and working tax credit and also even without children housing benefit.Do any of our UK nationals get similar in say Poland, Italy or Greece etc? There are other countries lined up to join also not of economic equality.
People living in Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland feel they do not get a proper voice at Westminster now and I would now add Northern England to that,so our voice in the EU will become even more diluted the bigger it gets.Also since the funds we send are then redistributed to poorer areas, by comparison Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will not be getting much, if anything ,compared to more recent joiners.I notice too that richer countries like Norway and Switzerland are not clamouring to become full EU members so if it was that good they would have been warmly welcomed had they wished to join..
We also suffer from governments who have not thought through the consequences on infrastructure by large influxes of population.They are aided and abetted by big business because they want to use cheap labour and also not encouraging the training of upcoming generations in skills we need because of sourcing ready trained EU staff.
I could go on further as there is more in the pipeline but not many EU countries including us(except maybe international conglomerates) will derive much benefit.
If there was strong evidence of reform going on such as reviewing for a start the excessive and wasteful expenditure involved by moving bases every month from Brussels to Strasbourg and back over 3 years ago there would not been a need for a referendum.
We managed before the Common Market we will manage again.Delay is now the biggest concern for businesses as contracts cannot be awarded or signed until leave date is actually happening.


I do not think you are correct to say that the UK child benefit rules discriminate between UK and non-UK EU citizens in the way that you describe, see:





In particular, it seems ANYONE who is eligible to claim child benefit can claim for a children not resident in their household, so long as they meet certain conditions with regard to caring for and financially supporting the children in question.

SteveS, with regard to (oil and fish rich) Norway not wanting to be a full EU member, here’s a short explanation for that, as written by a Norwegian diplomat:


Personally, I think a “soft-Brexit”, leaving the UK with a Norway style relationship to the EU would be a very good compromise for leaving the EU without leaving behind most of the benefits of EU membership.


With regard to Switzerland, they have never wanted to join the EU, but have carefully negotiated a series of trade deals with it, as summarised here:


Post-Bexit, I expect the UK might seek to do the same, even if it takes many years to do so.

I believe political factors also strongly influence the Swiss position, as summarised here:


I doubt that the UK will ever either reform to become politically neutral and independent like Switzerland or becomes as strongly committed to grass roots local democracy.

Derek says “I doubt that the UK will ever either reform to become politically neutral and independent like Switzerland or becomes as strongly committed to grass roots local democracy.”

And never a truer word spoken.

SteveS says:
2 July 2019

In reply to DerekP, I worked in DHSS(now DWP) and have been personally responsible for stopping child benefit to recipients whose child was not with them so I come from an informed position.As I said we must have had to change it despite my understanding that being in the EU benefits would be payable to EU citizens the same as that of residents of that country. I also had ‘customers’ who found themselves out of work in EU saying they had great difficulty getting benefits in Germany and France even in the short term.

As for my comments on Norway and Switzerland not wanting full membership if it was that good, their reasons per some of those articles you quoted are basically they would not be better off.

As for possible options I understand Mrs May was offered a Canada style agreement some time ago and that would have been a less soft option but I often wonder if all this delaying was deliberate.

In the meantime will we exit on 31st October?

I sincerely hope that leaving the EU does not result in a prolonged negative impact on the UK economy, finances, services and an increase in racism or isolationism.
‘Brexit’ & ‘Get it done’ are examples of meaningless rhetoric and ‘remains’ was dead by implication as soon as slogan adopted.
We will all have to see what buffoon Borris decides to advocate to further his career…

Iw, we may hope that, given the size of the new Conservative majority, Mr Johnson won’t have to follow the desires of his ERG colleagues for the hardest possible forms of Brexit, so may now get a softer form of Brexit. Who knows?

Back in 2016, I wondered about whether or not the potential increase of sovereignty from Brexit would be a fair exchange for an economic downturn post Brexit. We may now get to find out.

Alternatively, those of us who feared such economic consequences may yet be proved wrong…

A little late there, iw

I’ve seen an increase in racism and isolationism, and we haven’t left yet