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The Economy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:41 pm on 24th October 2019.

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Photo of Peter Dowd Peter Dowd Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 4:41 pm, 24th October 2019

My hon. Friend refers to just some of the many thousands of workers who have been let down by this Tory Government. We all walk past people sleeping rough on the streets every day, but what have the Government done about that? Nothing. Despite endless promises of jam tomorrow, there looks to be little respite ahead under this Government. Their approach to this is writ large by the smirks on the faces of the members of the Government Front Bench.

Manufacturing output in August dropped at the fastest pace in seven years, with EU-based customers rerouting supply chains away from the UK in anticipation of 31 October. Consumer and business confidence is tumbling. Anecdotally, we know that a worrying proportion of businesses are moving their operations and investment elsewhere.

My right hon. Friend the shadow Chancellor said:

“We have heard the Prime Minister’s previous crude dismissal of British business. Now we are seeing his words become Government policy.”—[Official Report, 8 October 2019;
Vol. 664, c. 1650.]

Businesses are responding in droves. The Centre for European Reform says that the economy is already £69 billion smaller as a result of Tory turmoil and uncertainty since the Brexit vote. That is their responsibility on their watch—nobody else’s. Time and again, they put party over country while the economy suffers. The Government’s false dichotomy of no deal versus a bad deal amounts to an attack on the economic wellbeing of our citizens. Our economy needs cast-iron guarantees of frictionless free trade and strong regulatory alignment with the European Union. It needs a targeted industrial strategy to turn the biggest threat of our time into an economic opportunity, but not with the Tories.

The only threat we face that is equal to the continuation of this Government is the climate emergency. We need a green industrial revolution: a rapid and far-reaching transformation of the UK’s infrastructure, from our homes to our transport and energy systems. That requires investment on a scale that makes the Government’s programme pale into insignificance. Labour is offering—