Finance Monthly - August 2022

failure – and the reasonswillmerit little more than a footnote in the history books. But post-Boris, the brutal reality is there are no more excuses. Conservative Politics have to deliver. The problem for the UK is there are some topics which the Conservative Party simply can no longer address or even discuss without immediately self-immolating. It has become factionalised. Either the Conservatives sort their internal division, or we need a new government pronto. The key issue is Brexit. Six years after the Leave vote, it is still impossible to answer the “Webster Question”: Name a single thing Brexit has made better? (Full disclosure – I voted to leave.) Brexiteers will cite the UK’s swift pandemic response and the AZ vaccine – but that’s a one-off highlighting just how good the UK can be when we put our minds to it! For all the talk of opportunities, new trade deals, and money flowing back into the economy from Brussels – the only real thing Brexit has delivered thus far is hardening antipathy with Europe. Not a single major trade deal outside Europe has been agreed upon. Terms of trade and travel with Europe have got increasingly worse. The right economic response would be to find a compromise with Europe to solve trade issues and increase trade flows – mutually beneficial. In an era when global supply chains are in flux, inflation is rampant, where energy and food security are under threat, the UK needs access – not blocks. Yet, none of the Tory contenders will dare talk about “that which cannot be named”: the UK’s ongoing relationship with Europe. To even mention a Brexit rethink or a more constructive dialogue with Brussels – is Conservative suicide. Such talk would drive the European Reform Group into apoplexy. The Brexit Taliban’s idea of engagement with Europe is to immediately refuse it. No Tory contender can dare upset them. The second issue is the NHS. It is Europe’s largest employer and consumes state resources at a furious rate. It is becoming the black hole at the core of government spending. The Tories know to mention reform plays into the hands of Labour to accuse them of wanting to privatise the much loved (but hopelessly mismanaged) national darling – so Tory policy is to simply feed it more cash and leave reform to the next government. Reforming the NHS can no longer be put off. Government pensions – of which the NHS is the largest part – are going to cost more and more, fuelled by inflation. It has to be reformed, made fit for purpose, and that means a new solution that rewards staff and meets the needs of patients at an affordable cost. That’s the real business of politics – making tough and hard decisions. addresses “Boris’ swift tumble from grace will become another footnote on how all political lives are doomed to failure – and the reasons will merit little more than a footnote in the history books. “ Finance Monthly. Fron t Cove r Fea t ur e 13

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