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Regulatory Policy

Sending the Wrong Signal: The Tory Food Police Give a Flavor of Post-EU Britain

(Regis Duvignau/Reuters)

So, Boris Johnson and his team have pulled off a last-minute deal with the EU. Tactically, that’s no small achievement, but whether it is a good deal (under the circumstances) won’t be clear for a while (the devil will be in the details), although I have no doubt at all that the Conservatives’ decision not to pursue the “Norway option” (or some variant of it) has meant that those circumstances were far worse than they needed to have been.

It does seem clear too that this “final” deal will in fact only be the opening act of what will be a prolonged series of negotiations over the U.K.’s long-term relationship with the EU.

Turbulent Times:

The first mistake is to look at this deal, or indeed any EU deal, as a boilerplate FTA. But this one especially. It is not an FTA. It is a partnership agreement. The framework for developing closer ties. As with most such agreements the content of the deal is less important than the institutional architecture. This one sets up a Partnership Council, 19 specialised committees and four working groups which will no doubt be expanded over time.

This, I suspect, is right.

It will also be important to keep an eye out on the ratification process. Will, for example, the Walloon parliament throw up a roadblock?

Meanwhile Johnson’s government has, by confirming its plans to police Britons’ plates, sent out something of a message that the post-EU U.K. will not be the sort of lightly regulated place that some naïve would-be investors might have hoped. On the contrary, the Tories have shown themselves to be a party of intrusive, poorly planned regulation (check out what they are talking about when it comes to climate change) and, indeed, of high (and soon higher) taxation. That’s not going to change.

But here (via the Daily Telegraph) is the menu news:

Free refills of sugary drinks and “buy one get one free” offers on unhealthy foods will be banned under government plans to tackle obesity, it will be announced on Monday.

The restrictions, which cover any multi-buy promotion, will apply to foods high in fat, salt or sugar – including cakes, crisps, soft drinks, breakfast cereals, pizzas and ready meals. Small stores are exempt from the plans.

The measures will come into force from April 2022.

The restrictions will apply to foods high in fat, salt or sugar – including cakes, crisps, soft drinks, breakfast cereals, pizzas and ready meals. Small stores are exempt from the plans.

Manufacturers will have 14 months to reformulate less healthy products if they want to continue with promotions.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the coronavirus pandemic had highlighted the need for the nation to lose weight, with Covid-19 being particularly deadly to overweight people.

“Because COVID” is clearly going to be the new “for the children.”

The Daily Telegraph:

The DHSC said that while promotions appear to save shoppers money, they actually encourage people to buy 20 per cent more than they need. Alongside supermarkets, the hospitality sector will no longer be allowed to offer free refills of sugary drinks.

Announcing an eight-week consultation on the plans, Public Health Minister Jo Churchill, said: “We know families want to be presented with healthier choices. This is why we are restricting promotions and introducing a range of measures to make sure the healthy choice is the easy choice.

“Creating an environment which helps everyone eat healthier foods more regularly is crucial to improving the health of the nation.”

Here we see how the Conservatives infantilize the voters: Simpletons, it seems, incapable of deciding for themselves how much and what they want to eat. There are to be fewer but “better” choices and the “health of the nation” trumps respect for the individual.

Oh yes, as foreshadowed, censorship is to be thrown into the mix:

The Government also still intends to go ahead with a ban on junk food adverts being aired on television before 9pm.

Sounds like a great country in which to invest.

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