The BBC has delivered two major bits of truth-telling in the last couple of days – and no, I am not talking about not their interviews with Phillip Schofield and Andrew Tate.
On Thursday, the BBC’s Today programme ran an interview with Larry Summers, the former US treasury secretary. Later that day, on Question Time, the former Conservative chairman Chris Patten gave the party both barrels.
Both men were totally correct and the consequences of what they are warning about are truly awful.
Summers pointed out what a disaster Brexit is – how it is raising inflation in the UK higher than in other countries, how staff shortages, border red tape and lack of competition are forcing up prices. The only weapon available is to increase interest rates further and higher than our competitors. In short, Summers warned, this is very likely to cause a recession in the UK.
Just think about that. Having narrowly avoided one recession because of the war in Ukraine and sky-high energy prices, we are now going to start one to get rid of overheating in our economy. Any economy that is overheating with growth of well below 1%, has very serious structural problems.
The British economy is the only leading one not to have recovered all the growth it lost to Covid. It is falling behind its competitors and rivals, it is abandoning the poor and desperate, it cannot find the money to pay nurses and doctors enough. And now it is heading for another recession.
This brings us to Patten, who also warned that although there are other factors behind Britain’s brittle economy, Brexit has made things far worse for the UK and we now have to admit that we are in a hole. Getting out will require the current generation of politicians to be honest, admit their mistakes and try to put things right.
This is going to mean higher taxes, less spending and more saving, investment and painful reforms. As Chris Patten says we are fooling ourselves if we think we can have that, and tax cuts as well.
Yet what is the Daily Telegraph, the Tory Party’s house organ, doing? It has launched a campaign against inheritance tax – one that is backed by Liz Truss, no less. They might have thought better than to boast about the support of the worst and shortest-lived PM in British history, whose massive, unfunded tax cuts created a market panic from which the British economy has yet to recover.
But the Conservatives are desperate and determined to cling to power and they always see tax cuts as one way of doing that. It is just one other reason we are in this mess.
But remember this: If the UK does fall into another recession, or even if growth is so anaemic as to be almost invisible, it will be the fault of Brexit. The fault of the liars who cannot admit their lies, the politicians who refuse to accept what is obvious to everyone with any common sense.
Someone other than Larry Summers and Chris Patten has to stand up and say the emperor has no clothes, before it is too late. And it is already very late indeed.