The disruption and price hikes caused by a chaotic no-deal Brexit would have a ‘direct and hard impact’ on millions of households across the UK, consumer group Which? has warned.
Painting a dismal picture of no-deal Brexit Britain, Which? said increasing numbers of people are concerned over the possibility of higher energy bills, food prices and transport costs, with many also worried about medical supplies being squeezed and consumer rights being curbed.
Over 60 per cent of people are now worried about Brexit, up from 39 per cent in September 2016, Which? said.
Fallout: A no-deal Brexit would have a ‘direct and hard impact’ on consumers, Which? said
Basing its findings on government papers, surveys and online forums, Which? said two in five people did not understand the potential implications of a no-deal Brexit scenario.
A survey for the consumer group found three quarters of people thought a no-deal Brexit would lead to higher prices for food and other items and delays at the border for travellers and holidaymakers.
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, over 60 per cent expect disruption to food supplies because of hold-ups at the border, Which? said. Sixty per cent expect higher energy costs, while 57 per cent think there would be some flight restrictions imposed.
On the issue of consumer rights, three quarters of people believe a no-deal Brexit would make it harder to resolve an issue with a faulty product bought online from an EU-based business.
Caroline Normand, Which’s? director of policy, said: ‘Consumers want a Brexit that protects and enhances their rights and gives them access to a wider range of high-quality, affordable goods and services.
‘But it’s clear that many are deeply concerned about what a no-deal Brexit would mean for families and businesses across Britain.’
Trouble ahead: Over 60 per cent expect disruption to food supplies because of hold-ups at the border, Which? said
She added: ‘From grounded flights and delays at borders and airports, to food shortages and soaring energy prices, the impact could be immediate and catastrophic for millions of people, with disruption on a scale not seen since the consumer chaos of the 1970s.
‘The Government must agree a deal with the European Union to prevent a disaster scenario for consumers that hits them in the pocket and sees valuable rights effectively snatched away from them.’
Summing up its findings, Which? said: ‘Our latest consumer research shows that most people are unprepared for what “no deal” would mean in practice – and many do not understand how it would have multiple impacts across so many aspects of their daily lives.’
Consumer views on Brexit
In its latest findings, Which? cited the thoughts of a number of consumers on Brexit. Here’s what they had to say to Which? on a variety of topics:
How will flights be possible if no agreement is reached? Hopefully common sense will prevail and things will go smoothly. 35 to 40-year-old male, South East
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The possible impact for me does not worry me to any large degree because common sense will prevail in the end. Should it happen I may miss the odd holiday, it’s no major deal to me. 70 to 75-year-old male, East Midlands
We have import restrictions on goods from outside the EU which travel further and still arrive in shops. It’s all pure panic, but yes there would be a period of pain followed by increased UK production and cheaper supply from non EU countries. 45 to 50-year-old male, West Midlands
I did not realise that so much of our food supply is from the EU. I am very worried that prices will be too high and will greatly affect people in this country who are already struggling. And it sounds like we will be paying higher prices for a poorer quality and freshness of food. 70 to 75-year-old female West Midlands
I knew there would be some issues with food deliveries to supermarkets however I hadn’t even considered how medicines would be impacted.
Although food issues can be inconvenient I’m very worried how people who need medicines, particularly nuclear medicines might be affected.
Having had many family members with cancer before I feel especially worried about how the government might provide a stockpile for those medicines, or even if the UK will begin to produce them all itself. 20 to 25-year-old female, Yorkshire & the Humber
I would perhaps be less likely to purchase goods from abroad due to the lack of rights, plus probable pound’s devaluation.
I feel I would need to update my limited legal knowledge due to changes in the law and so will legal firms. 25 to 30-year-old male, London
In its 26-page report, Which?, citing government papers, said flights to the EU may no longer be able to operate, which National Express coaches ‘may not be able to operate in the immediate aftermath.’ Passports with less than six months remaining will also no longer be valid when travelling to the EU, the group said.
On the subject of food, the research suggests supplies could become disrupted, food prices could rise and fraud and food safety risks could increase.
Restrictions: A growing number of people think a no-deal Brexit could lead to flight restrictions
Looking at consumer products more broadly, the findings claim possible disruption to supply chains could lead to ‘increased costs.’
On the consumer rights front, Which? said shoppers could find it ‘much more complicated ‘ to enforce many of the rights they expect when buying goods from EU companies.
At the Conservative party conference last week, Prime Minister Theresa May said she be ‘honouring the result of the referendum’ and ‘seek a good trading and security relationship with our neighbours.’
May added: ‘Britain isn’t afraid to leave with no deal if we have to.’
Standing firm: ‘Britain isn’t afraid to leave with no deal if we have to’, Prime Minister Theresa May said last week