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Economy and Jobs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:47 pm on 20th January 2020.

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Photo of Sajid Javid Sajid Javid The Chancellor of the Exchequer 4:47 pm, 20th January 2020

Absolutely. May I take this opportunity to commend my right hon. Friend for all the work he has done on all three of those issues. He is absolutely right in what he says.

Our work has started with this Queen’s Speech, the most radical Queen’s Speech in a generation. It will enshrine in law the largest cash settlement in the NHS’s history and invest more in our schools; it will revolutionise our national infrastructure and make great strides towards net zero emissions by 2050; it will level up, spreading prosperity and opportunity across every region and country of the United Kingdom; and it will build that brighter future for our country on the foundation of economic security and sound public finances. This is a one nation Government delivering the people’s priorities as we embark on a decade of renewal.

As we begin this new chapter in our country’s history, we start with strong economic fundamentals. Our economy has grown in each of the past nine years, and just today, when the International Monetary Fund updated its world economic outlook, it forecast that this year the UK will grow faster than France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Our jobs miracle continues—it is a miracle; Members would think that a party that calls itself the Labour party would welcome a jobs miracle—with the highest employment rate ever and an unemployment rate that is the joint lowest for 45 years.

The UK is an open and competitive economy with some of the most innovative and exciting businesses in the world. Just last week, new figures showed that tech investment in the UK grew faster last year than in the US, China, France and Germany. Although we are optimistic about the future, we are not complacent. It is clear that the uncertainty and indecision of recent months has held back our economy. The global economy is slowing, and an open economy like ours is not immune to global trends. Our productivity growth has not yet recovered to pre-crisis levels, acting as a brake on the potential of our country. The Government have a real opportunity to tackle some of these long-term challenges. I will set out our new economic plan in the Budget on 11 March.