The ‘bonfire of EU law’ runs a major risk of leaving the UK out in the cold

In terms of generating eyebrow-raising national tabloid media headlines is concerned, the subject of economic reforms has never been the stuff of headline writers’ dreams, and yet one such major story needs to be on everyone’s radar right now in the UK.

For the EU Retained Law Bill may sound relatively innocuous, perhaps a relatively harmless hangover from Brexit that requires a few minor legal tweaks to deliver on the government’s so-called ‘oven ready deal’ that had been much championed by its former Prime Minister.

However, while most folks have been quietly going about their business, this single piece of legislation – which actually accounts for up to around 4,000 pieces of crucial law, including consumer, environmental and employment regulations are about to be literally cast aside on political whim, with only the vaguest hint that some replacements might be conjured up before an artificially created deadline of the end of this year.

So why does this so-called ‘Bonfire of EU law’ put forward by former business minister Jacob Rees-Mogg’s (pictured) extreme wing of the Conservative party really matter to anyone in the business world, let alone within the confectionery or snacks sector you might well ask? Well, as it happens, legislation governing chocolate marketing and labelling is now seemingly at stake as part of this sorry episode in our nation’s political life.

On the surface of it, it’s a perfectly natural question to ask – do we all really need the rules and regulations that in some quarters have been complained about for the past three decades in the UK. The response from most rational minds, if you care about protection for our environment, maximum working hours, as well as broader consumer protections brought in to harmonise trade across Europe, then this is almost definitely something you should care about.

The government’s proposals on this, wrapped up int he EU Retained Law Bill, were even dismissed by the former Brexit minister David Davis, described the haste to dispense with decades worth of polices that Britain had in fact contributed to itself as being ‘undemocratic.’ He was far from alone in that view, with a total of 60 leading business and civil organisations expressing similar views, including the Institute of Directors, which warned that the sudden removal of such a vast array of legislation would create yet further confusion for small and medium-sized companies already reeling from the mass of additional administration that they are now burdened with in contemplating trade with our European neighbours.

This may not be a very exciting subject for some, but it really does impact on many aspects of our personal lives, as well as our professional ones too, and directly within the confectionery trade itself, which is especially concerning to note in the wake of the turmoil of the past few years. The whole sorry circus surrounding Brexit has been exposed for what it really is – an empty shell of a concept that has caused considerable negative impact on both sides of the channel.

If any further evidence were needed for this, then it has been delivered in timely fashion by none other than the UK government’s own Department for International Trade – which has just conceded that as a direct consequence of Brexit, it will now take 15 years longer than originally forecast for us to reach a position of British Exports totalling one trillion by 2035. That suddenly seems an awfully long time away.

Neill Barston, editor, Confectionery Production

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