According To Edwards ... Changes large and small anticipated for UK producers

No one knows the changes that Brexit will impose on the UK over time. Some will surely be massive and they are already being guessed at. But there will be little changes too and some of those will ripple out over time to surprisingly large effect. I don't pretend to know what will happen, but it's fun to speculate.

As a member of the EU we've had to interpret numerous directives and regulations, and it is a common view in the UK that our interpretation of those things is often more onerous for businesses in the UK than might be the case in some other member states. We have a reputation for following the spirit of an EU directive, rather than squinting at it sideways and interpreting it in a more convenient fashion.

Membership of the EU demands that a member state allows competition from other member states within its realm. I have heard this point raised on many occasions here in the UK, most notably when the trade has discussed the idea of promoting "buy British". It is simply not permitted, no matter how patriotic you might think your consumer is. You may not point them in the direction of British products because to do so would be against the spirit of the EU concept of free trade.

One of the easiest ways of suggesting that a product is British is to put a Union Jack on it. As a result, the use of the flag in the UK has been strictly controlled. But what will happen once we leave the EU? When does the UK Government hope we will see an improvement in our balance of payments?

Surely the Government itself will want to encourage greater consumption of domestic products. Patriotism will surely be encouraged. There will be campaigns to promote all things British and little Union Jack flags will appear all over the place.

I have never previously been convinced that there is a massive demand for UK products for their own sake - UK retailers tend to praise UK producers when the exchange rate makes it a good idea, but you hear far less of that when the rate moves the other way.

However, this time around I think it will be different. This time around we will be allowed to throw some real effort at the idea. Freedom to use the Union Jack might sound like a small matter in the grand scheme of things, but I predict that it will have a real impact on the consumer landscape here in the UK.

Tim Edwards is chairman of Boningale Nurseries


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