Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:54 pm on 8th March 2017.

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Photo of Andrew Tyrie Andrew Tyrie Chair, Treasury Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, National Policy Statements Sub-Committee 1:54 pm, 8th March 2017

My hon. Friend has made his point, and he may well be right. I never talk about cider for long in the House of Commons because, whatever I say, I have always found that it results in a great deal of correspondence. I will avoid cider altogether.

I end on a couple of larger points about the backdrop to the Budget. The Chancellor is having to deal with two big risks. First among those, and by far the biggest, is the risk to the economic prosperity of our constituents and the stability of the west from the resurgence of economic nationalism. There is a bit of that in Britain and a great deal more elsewhere in the world. Protectionism has been on the rise for some time, and it is already affecting global growth. It is worth bearing in mind that global growth has been anaemic over the past five years compared with the average of the past 30 years, and that includes the effects of the financial crash. There is a big difference between those two numbers.

Global trade growth has been even weaker. Global trade is now declining as a share of world economic activity, and we should all be concerned about that. The link between prosperity and trade does not seem to have registered with President Trump, at least not yet. He has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership looks to be in trouble. He has called the World Trade Organisation “a disaster,” and he is threatening to withdraw from that, too. But not the Prime Minister. She has made it clear that Britain should be the firmest advocate for free trade anywhere in the world, and she is right. If it were all to go wrong and we were to return to full-blooded protectionism, we would not have to look into a crystal ball; we could read the book of the 1930s.