Europe

Andrew Neil admits Brexit died this week as Hunt snuffs out benefits

Autumn Statement: Key announcements from Jeremy Hunt

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Andrew Neil believes this was the week any Brexit benefits were killed-off by Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement. The veteran commentator and presenter has written in the Mail Online that every typical Tory economic medicine had been “sacrificed at the altar” of Thursday’s financial announcement. Mr Neil said the “fiscal hairshirt” of a budget strategy ditched most Conservative ideals, such as lower taxes and smaller government, but the “biggest casualty” has been Brexit.  He writes: “The Government was supposed to create a post-Brexit low-tax, low-regulation, free-wheeling economic environment which would unleash homegrown entrepreneurs and turn Britain into a beacon for foreign investment, with enterprising business folk flooding to our shores. After Thursday, that is not going to happen.”

Financial policies singled out from the Autumn Statement by Mr Neil include the 45p rate of income tax being lowered from £150,000 to £125,000 and the Corporation tax rise (on company profits) from 19 per cent to 25 per cent.

He points out: “The average in Asia and the EU is 20 per cent. In the OECD, a club of rich nations, it’s 23 per cent. I don’t remember being told to vote for Brexit in order to get a higher rate of corporation tax than Europe.”

The Andrew Neil Show presenter said he believes the current course of British economics is turning the nation into “a bog-standard European social democracy” and instead of becoming “Singapore-on-Thames we’re becoming Britain-on-the-Rhine”.

Mr Neil concludes he has never said how he voted on Brexit but that “he understands how frustrated Brexiteers must feel” about the Autumn Statement and that those who backed Brexit have been “betrayed by the very Tory politicians who told them to vote Brexit in the first place”.

Jeremy Hunt, who had a call with International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Kristalina Georgieva on Friday, said that she described the UK’s economic plans as “balanced and fair”.

“The managing director of the IMF Kristalina Georgieva says today our plan to tackle rising prices is balanced and fair,” the Chancellor tweeted.

On Friday economists warned the Chancellor’s record-high taxes were “here to stay”. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the biggest drop in living standards will “hit everyone” but that “Middle England is set for a shock” as taxes are hiked as wages fall.

The economic think tank’s director Paul Johnson said: “The truth is we just got a lot poorer.” He listed the self-inflicted wounds to growth as including Brexit, austerity-era cuts to education spending and Liz Truss’s disastrous mini-budget, which he described as a “large own goal”, as well as the general political chaos of recent months.

Jacob Rees-Mogg is among the senior Conservatives to have criticised the £25 billion of tax rises unveiled by Mr Hunt in his autumn statement on Thursday as he acknowledged that the UK was already in recession.

Mr Rees-Mogg, the former business secretary, told Channel 4 News: “I think we need to look at the efficiency of government to make sure money is well spent before reaching for the easy option of putting up taxes.

“What we actually need to be doing is having a strategy for growth and looking to lower taxes.”

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Meanwhile the results from an Express.co.uk  poll show voters don’t believe the Government is moving fast enough to make the most of Brexit.  Conservative MP Marco Longhi warned Rishi Sunak the “clock is ticking” for him to take action to make the most of it.

He warned the Government has not “delivered on the benefits of Brexit”, and urged him to make a “bonfire of EU laws”.The poll, conducted by Techne UK for Express.co.uk, showed that 52 percent of people don’t think Mr Sunak’s Government is moving fast enough to implement the benefits of Brexit.

Among Remain voters, the proportion of those who believe the Government is not moving quickly enough was much higher, with 61 percent thinking they should go faster to reap the benefits.

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