Jeremy Hunt clashes with Trevor Phillips
Liz Truss’s former economic adviser has said Brexit has been “vindicated” by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) when it was forced to revise its figures on Britain’s economic performance since the Covid pandemic.
The 0.6 percent increase in projected growth meant Britain has again out-performed Germany, France and Italy among other western economic powerhouses and, unlike the eurozone, is not staring at a recession.
Matthew Sinclair, who served in Downing Street during Ms Truss’ 49-day premiership, said the figures proved Brexiteers were right.
But he warned Rishi Sunak’s government, which has introduced high tax and continued high spending, is not seizing the opportunities of leaving the EU. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, he poured scorn on pro-EU supporters including the New York Times.
READ MORE: Jeremy Hunt scolds ‘gloomster’ Trevor Phillips ‘Britain can compete with China!’
He wrote: “The New York Times just last month was reporting claims that the UK had developed a reputation as a ‘bit of a basket case among major advanced economies since voting for Brexit’ – one of a litany of articles lamenting the state of the country since the vote to leave the EU.
“Hopefully they will report just as prominently on this much better news.
“But I am not holding my breath: for years now a toxic narrative has built up about Britain which has enabled rampant pessimism about our prospects.”
He added: “This hurts consumer and business confidence in an already challenging macroeconomic environment and encourages short-term politics.
“A corrective is long overdue to the fatalism that pervades too much institutional thinking here.”
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He pointed out that Britain is in a much stronger position than many of its rivals. He said: “The UK has real advantages over its Western European peers.
“Whether that is strengths in financial and business services or the creative economy, we are well-positioned in many of the sectors that are growing fastest as economies everywhere mature.
“Our labour market is still better and freezes fewer people out, though too many people are out of employment since Covid.”
But he noted continued high taxation and spending was stifling the opportunities of Brexit. He said: “Too many of the compensating opportunities for more flexible self-government have been neglected with politicians instead empowering an administrative state.”
Mr Sinclair added: “Growth means opportunities, stagnation means our best and brightest looking abroad.
“Now we have a more accurate picture of what has been going on in the UK economy, there is a fresh opportunity to lift our ambition and get out of the low growth club.”
His comments come as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt hailed the economic figures and accused many people of talking Britain down.
In an interview on Sky News this morning he told Trevor Phillips to “stop being pessimistic” about Britain’s opportunities and insisted “we can compete with China.”
However, the intervention by Mr Sinclair comes as Tory MPs return to the Commons this week ahead of the party conferences in October.
Many Conservative MPs faced with a 20-point deficit to Labour in the polls want Mr Sunak to start adopting some of the tax cutting policies of Ms Truss’s government.
Mr Hunt though refused to commit to tax cuts and insisted that his goal is still to halve inflation.
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