When it comes to deficit reduction, let us never forget that the Chancellor of the Exchequer promised to eradicate the deficit by the end of the previous Parliament. We have passed that deadline, so he has broken that promise. He should put his hands up and admit that, when it came to his promise on the deficit, he failed.
We now need focus to address our economic challenges, not a Chancellor distracted by his own political ambition. We need a concerted drive to boost productivity; a balanced recovery reaching all corners of the country, with no sector left behind; a meaningful effort to tackle the root causes of higher welfare costs, low pay and insecure working conditions; a guarantee that any scope for tax cuts should be focused entirely on middle and lower earners; and a commitment to reject an ideological drive to shrink public investment. That is the approach Britain needs. That would be a genuinely one-nation approach.
Instead, we had a Queen’s Speech that focused on short-term political headlines, rather than long-term economic gain. It was designed to lay political traps for the Chancellor’s opponents as part of a grand political chess game, rather than to focus on productivity and balanced growth. This obsession with short-term, narrow political gain is the Chancellor’s curse. He is the Chancellor for whom productivity means kicking the Home Secretary off her Cabinet Committees. He is the Chancellor for whom a long-term plan means a move next door. He is sticking with the family business and measuring up the wallpaper for No. 10 already. That is his real agenda. Cold and calculating, he is the iceberg Chancellor, with hidden dangers beneath the surface. He is putting productivity and public services are risk, prioritising the very richest above those on middle and lower incomes, pitting one nation against another. Britain did not vote for a hidden agenda. I urge the Chancellor to put the ambitions of Britain above his own.