Laura Leeks was reportedly refused free car parking at Tesco because the only thing she had gone into the shop for was baby formula. According to some jobsworth at Tesco’s, to allow her the free car parking would amount to a promotion of that product, which is not allowed.
Before I get to the point, let’s clear off one or two side-issues: Tesco’s employee was almost certainly over-interpreting the law. In the unlikely event that that is what the law actually means, two reactions would have been sensible. The first would have been to turn a blind eye, the second, though on a different plane, would be to work to change the law. The other side-issue being that while baby formula is clearly not in the same league as, say, tobacco for a harmful substance, it is quite clear that babies do better if they are fed by mothers’ milk. Regulations to prevent younger, often vulnerable, mothers from being aggressively targeted by baby formula manufacturers are a good thing, surely?
The truly objectionable thing, however, was the reaction of the Department of Health. According to the link above:
The Department of Health said the relevant rules are enshrined in UK law as a result of an EU regulation on the sale of baby formula. “These rules are currently in place because of EU law,” a spokesman said. “But our great repeal bill means that when we leave the EU, laws such as these will be debated and controlled by the UK parliament.”
So, the message is clear – according to the Department, we should blame Europe for everything. Never mind the fact that Britain, as a major player in the EU, will and should have played a major part in framing those regulations, that they are indeed “our” regulations. And after the great repeal bill, it seems that we will be able to abandon those annoying things that are designed to protect people but get in the way of trade. We will be able to let Nestlé and the other manufacturers have free rein to use any advertising trick they like to get their products into the mouths of babes and sucklings.
With statements like that coming out from them, one might imagine that the DoH also fell for New York-born Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s joke that EU regulations required straight bananas. (I say “joke” to give him the benefit of the doubt. More likely, in my view, it was a malicious smear which he knew that he could pass off as a joke when challenged, but that many people would be thoughtless enough to believe.)
Here is New York-born Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, by the way: