The Chancellor needed to use his Autumn Statement on Wednesday to build an economy that worked for everyone. But the measures he announced were too little, too late; his efforts were undermined by the catastrophic economic impacts of Brexit; and he has broken the promises his colleagues in Cabinet who led the Leave campaign.
The challenge for politicians in modern Britain is to craft an economy that works for everyone. An economy which delivers prosperity for all in every part of our country – rich and poor, North and South, London and the rest. Yesterday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer failed comprehensively to do so.
The Autumn Statement included some welcome measures, such as the rise in infrastructure spending. But this was nothing more than a finger in the dyke against the surge of bad economic news caused by Brexit.
The OBR’s analysis of the economic consequences of Brexit is devastating – both to the British economy, and to the credibility of the Brexiteers who argued the other case. They explicitly blame Brexit for a £58billion increase in borrowing over the next few years. Growth and business investment will fall, unemployment and inflation will rise. I know we are not supposed to trust experts anymore, but given that prices are already rising, these forecasts seem legitimate.
This Tory government have committed an act of economic vandalism. By holding an EU referendum while having no plan whatsoever for what might happen if we did leave, they have crashed the car and left others to try and pick up the pieces.
It leaves a particularly bitter taste in the mouth when you consider the promises that were made by the Vote Leave campaigners. They dismissed every warning about the economic impact of Brexit as ‘scaremongering’ and ‘Project Fear’. Michael Gove infamously said that “people have had enough of experts”, asking the British people to trust his dodgy assurances instead.
To add insult to injury, the Government failed dismally to keep the promise made by its pro-Leave members – to spend £350million more on the NHS every week. This was the most high-profile promise made by Vote Leave, and the Autumn Statement was the perfect opportunity to say that this pledge would be kept once we leave. Thousands of people signed a petition calling on them to do so. But the Government arrogantly dismissed their concerns. ‘Brexit means Brexit’, we are told, but it clearly does not mean delivering the biggest promise of the Brexit campaign.
On the economy and on the NHS, this amounts to an immense betrayal of the British people. They were told that a vote for Brexit would leave the economy undamaged and the NHS in better financial health. Both promises lie in tatters. We need to hold the Leavers, especially Boris and his friends in Government, to account. So please sign up to Vote Leave Watch, so we can do just that.