The Economy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:59 pm on 24th October 2019.

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Photo of Sajid Javid Sajid Javid The Chancellor of the Exchequer 12:59 pm, 24th October 2019

I do not accept the hon. Lady’s analysis. Once we leave the EU with the close economic partnership that is set out in the political declaration, our economy will continue to be one of the strongest in the world, unleashing many new opportunities for all parts of our country, including the north-east.

Turning to the amendment tabled by Ian Blackford, let me be clear about one thing: Britain will always be an open, global, outward-looking country. I am proud of living in a country as diverse as this one. We have dropped arbitrary immigration targets and recently announced new highly flexible fast-track visas for scientists; none of that will change as we leave the EU. We will continue to welcome the best and the brightest from across the world. I therefore urge all hon. Members to vote against amendment (h) because it is important that we end free movement as we regain control of our borders.

I turn now to the shadow Chancellor’s amendment. There are no mainstream parties in the developed world with an economic agenda as extreme as the one now proposed by Labour. There is no tax that the Labour party would not hike, there is no business that it would not nationalise, and there is no strike that it would not support. Instead of embracing the future, the shadow Chancellor demands that we turn back the clock on progress. He claims that 95% of people would face no income tax hikes under Labour, but then proposes more than 20 new tax hikes. He claims that he would protect pensioners, but tell that to the millions whose pensions will be smashed by Labour’s threats to renationalise vast swathes of the economy without any proper compensation. He told businesses he had nothing up his sleeve, but then he announced plans to confiscate £300 billion of shares from private investors in the biggest state raid this country will ever see.

The shadow Chancellor has never worked in a business. He does not get business. He even refuses to name a single business that he admires. And guess what? He calls business the real enemy. Given his threats to hike taxes, to renationalise businesses and to load them up with new bills and regulations, I am pretty sure the feeling is mutual.

We have even heard Labour officials suggesting—I am not making this up—the nationalisation of travel agents. It will be free trips to Havana for Labour Front Benchers, and perhaps a ticket to Siberia for Tom Watson. The simple truth is that Labour is not fit to govern. It would wreck the economy and hard-working families would pay the price, just like last time.

These are the fundamental dividing lines in British politics today. We will raise wages; Labour will raise taxes. We will back business; it will smash business. We will get Brexit done; it will dither and delay. A Conservative party that believes in free enterprise and that will get Brexit done and deliver the change people want; or an anti-aspiration, anti-business Labour party led by a pair who would wreck the economy, cancel the referendum and leave Britain less secure and less safe.

I know the shadow Chancellor is a fan of the little red book, but these days he is less Chairman Mao and more Colonel Sanders—too chicken to face an election. Let us back this deal, let us back this Queen’s Speech and let us have a general election. I commend the Queen’s Speech to the House.