UK warned tax won’t return to pre-Covid levels for decades after ‘series of economic own goals’ – UK politics live

Chancellor defends tax rises as Institute for Fiscal Studies says UK now entering a ‘new era’ of higher taxation

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has conceded that Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit deal has caused damaging trade barriers with the European Union, as he said immigration will be “very important” for the economy.

Hunt insisted the UK would find a way to improve trading ties with the EU without rejoining the single market.

His comments came after the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said Brexit caused a “significant adverse impact” to trade volumes and business relationships between UK and EU firms.

Asked if rejoining the single market would boost growth, the Chancellor told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

I think having unfettered trade with our neighbours and countries all over the world is very beneficial to growth.

I have great confidence that over the years ahead we will find outside the single market we are able to remove the vast majority of the trade barriers that exist between us and the EU. It will take time.

I don’t think it’s the right way to boost growth because it would be against what people were voting for when they supported Brexit which was to have control of our borders and membership of the single market requires free movement of people.

So I think we can find other ways that will more than compensate for those advantages.

There needs to be a long-term plan if we’re going to bring down migration in a way that doesn’t harm the economy.

We are recognising that we will need migration for the years ahead – that will be very important for the economy, yes.

They don’t look obviously deliverable. If you take the spending cuts that are in place and subtract out the protected departments like health and defence, you end up with really big falls in those unprotected departments.

Hard to see how given the legacy of austerity, given public sector wages are already lagging behind and given this is effectively tying the hands of governments, it’s really hard to see how those will be delivered.

What we saw yesterday was the biggest deterioration in the overall forecasts since the OBR started producing these forecasts.

What is doing the damage here is higher interest rates.

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