By standing by her principles, it's just possible that Liz Truss will make Britain great again, says Mark Dolan
It's time to crack on and get Britain moving
Okay folks, it's time to crack on and get Britain moving. The wonderful send off of our late, great her Majesty the Queen, was a brief respite, from what is in no uncertain terms a national crisis. Soaring inflation, spiralling energy bills, union wage demands. A cancer backlog in the NHS, knife crime in our great cities, burglaries through the roof, a backlog of court case so massive, our criminal justice system is effectively on pause. A generation of kids, still playing catch up at school, thanks to, in my view, needless school closures. Oh, and there's a small matter of Russia's invasion in Ukraine, which is artificially spiking the cost of oil and gas.
But Britain, as we've discovered in the last few days, with the global event was the Queen's funeral, is a country that has always and WILL always, punch above its weight.
We like a challenge. It happened when we saw off the existential threat of Nazism in Europe, and when we rebuilt a broken economy and a broken country, post war. We emerged from the 70s, a decade of stagnation, debt and industrial strife, into the economic boom of the 1980s and we won a war against Argentina to boot.
We survived the recession of 1990 paired with a housing market crash and interest rates at 15%, and we even shrugged off the credit crunch in 2008, with the tough love policies of the then coalition government under David Cameron, taking the deficit as percentage of GDP from an eye watering 11% to a far healthier 2% in just a few years.
We bounced back thenm and we will do it again. And not in spite of Brexit, but because of it. Notwithstanding anger and disappointment for some at the undemocratic dispatch of Boris Johnson from number 10, I like the optics of a new prime minister and a new king, with which to tackle our greatest challenges to date.
The epic tale of these islands turns a new chapter, and whilst a few of the pages will keep you awake at night, there's no reason not to anticipate a happy ending. It's clear what our exciting new prime minister Liz Truss wants to do. Go for growth. Now be clear, tax cuts during a recession IS a colossal gamble, one Rishi Sunak – remember him? - advised against.
I've been wildly critical of all of the borrowing over the last 2 1/2 years for what was in my view the failed experiment of lockdown. However borrowing to subsidise energy bills for the next two years was essential and on that Truss has acted with remarkable speed.
The new business secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who means business, will set out how companies will be helped tomorrow. He has said his department will be the department for growth.
And further borrowing to stimulate the economy and to spark investment is, in my view, a gamble worth taking. I’m persuaded by Truss that high taxes will just burden businesses and preclude consumer spending. Higher taxes will almost certainly lead to a deeper and longer recession and with the potential flight of capital and talent, with companies and individuals running for the hills to escape high tax Britain, it will be a race to the bottom too.
Jeremy Corbyn warned that post Brexit Britain risked becoming Singapore on Sea, a low tax haven. He meant it as an insult, I consider it a sensible aspiration. Bring it on! We want the world’s largest companies here – creating jobs, building their HQs here and contributing to the tax take. And don't forget, the mathematics of taxation is a counterintuitive dark art.
As our new PM pointed out “The last time we cut corporation tax, in 2017, we attracted more revenue into the exchequer because more companies wanted to base themselves in Britain, more companies wanted to invest in our country…”
And whilst a windfall tax on energy companies makes sense on paper and grabs the headlines, what is the reality? The perception of Britain as a country that will raid your coffers, whenever you have a productive few years. The reality is that I would love the energy companies to pay more, because they have enjoyed an unexpected gold rush, but that's how it goes – businesses and industries have good times and bad, and the British government is effectively in partnership with energy companies to seek future energy supply, via not just fossil fuels like oil and gas, but renewables too. This costs
billions. The energy companies are well within their rights to curtail this long-term investment if they get clobbered by the Treasury. What do you want? A populist policy that raises a few million to satisfy the leader writers at the mirror and the Guardian, or a policy that establishes Britain as a consistently low tax economy, a safe place to invest and in the case of energy companies, one with a realistic and long-term plan to boost energy supply.
New Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini budget coming on Friday will establish the predominant theme that this new government, will go for growth. Why does that matter? Because growth, as a result of higher GDP, increases the government’s overall revenue, giving Britain the fire power to invest in public services, to police our streets, to pay for defence, schools and everything else beyond.
In short, I'm giving our new prime minister the benefit of the doubt. Her policies are bold and a gamble, and my gut tells me that's the way to go. And we've had some brutal honesty from the PM today saying a US trade deal is effectively off the table, mainly due to the Britain hating incumbent at the white House, Mr Forgetful himself Joe Biden.
This kind of honesty and straight talking is exactly what the country needs if it’s going to rebuild. The trade deal will come, once we’ve got a US president that doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder about this country. So there is one other commitment we need from our ballsy new prime minister, who seems refreshingly willing to be unpopular, a genius political quality enjoyed by her heroine, Margaret Thatcher.
With terrifying public health figures like Communist behavioural scientist Susan Michie calling once again for more Covid measures, Liz Truss must commit to no Covid measures this winter.
Do you think our economy, punch drunk from two and a half years of lockdowns can withstand any more disruption? Boris Johnson pretended to be a libertarian, but folded to sage over mask mandates, vaccine mandates and Boris was even going to cancel Christmas last year, before Sunak Frost and Rees-Mogg stepped in.
Liz Truss must be our first anti-lockdown prime minister. And for businesses to know that they can go into this winter able to trade, able to employ people, invest and serve their clients and customers, with no threat of any Covid measures whatsoever, business sentiment will soar.
A combination of low taxes, support for energy bills, policies that reduce inflation and a commitment to keep Britain open this winter, will prove a heady mix. Far from being a crisis, if we go for growth, the sky is the limit, and as we were yesterday at the Queens incredible funeral, we will once again, be the envy of the world.
By being bold, by being brave, by being occasionally unpopular, by having a vision, by standing by her principles, it’s just possible, Liz Truss will make Britain great again.