With the greatest respect, I do not accept that. I will come to that shortly.
When we look at the effect on public finances of the plan that the hon. Gentleman has signed up to with the Free Enterprise group and with the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, the effect on our public services, not least the NHS, could be exceptionally difficult and potentially implausible.
“How will these cut be implemented? What will local government, the defence force, the transport system, look like in this world? Is this a fundamental reimagining of the role of the state? ... If we move in anything like this direction, whilst continuing to protect health and pensions, the role and shape of the state will have changed beyond recognition.”
Is it any wonder that UKIP has backed Conservative plans? No surprise there.
Be under no illusions—the Conservatives’ pathway for the next Parliament is a statement of intent to wage war on public services, and people need to understand the tremendous risks involved. It is a major threat to the viability of public services, which would wreak havoc especially in non-ring-fenced areas such as policing, border controls, child protection and social care. Such extreme plans would decimate skills, infrastructure, research and development and science, undermining the competitiveness of our economy. Devastation on that scale would not be tolerable, which is why we suspect that the Conservatives have secret plans to hit household finances in other ways.