TORY claims that they would end austerity and invest in public services under their government while Britain leaves the EU are mere lip service, the shadow chancellor warned yesterday.
They have learned nothing from their loss of a slim parliamentary majority in the general election earlier this month and the “wasted years of economic failure” they presided over, John McDonnell said in response to Chancellor Philip Hammond’s speech to City leaders at the Mansion House on Tuesday morning.
Mr Hammond again signalled his “soft Brexit” credentials by stressing that Britain would leave the EU “in a way that prioritises British jobs and underpins Britain’s prosperity,” in contrast with Prime Minister Theresa May’s “hard Brexit” stance, with immigration controls as a red line for the negotiations that started on Monday.
He added that he was not turning a blind eye to a “growing tide of hostility” against globalisation and mass immigration and that he would push for trade that “delivers clear benefits for ordinary working people.”
Britain is weary of austerity “after seven years of hard slog,” the Chancellor admitted, before claiming that a Tory government would boost investment in public services and possibly raise taxes.
Mr Hammond signalled that Britain could seek access to money from the European Investment Bank (EIB) after Brexit and announced an expansion of domestic support for capital investment.
But Mr McDonnell countered that the Tory spin on Brexit nuances was simply a “smokescreen to paper over the cracks of the divide at the very heart of this Tory government” in order to push through a plan to turn Britain into a tax haven off the coast of Europe.
He said: “The Conservatives have no understanding of the depth of suffering, stress and insecurity their long austerity regime has caused.
“And we have seen the Chancellor again trying to distance himself from the position of his Prime Minister on Brexit. It just shows further disarray at the top of government.
“Labour has called from day one for the Chancellor to act on gaining assurances over our stake in the EIB, and it has taken him a year to raise a finger.
“And now he has, all he is offering businesses in our country in way of support to mitigate any risks from the loss of this resource is a drop in the ocean from the actual support they will really need.”