The report finds that a new consensus has developed relating to the size of the state: namely that it should be bigger. Ahead of the publication of the election manifestos, we speculate as what that expansion might look like by using what the two major parties have said about their ambitions to date to model some illustrative scenarios. Those scenarios suggest that the UK public finances are heading back to 1970s levels over the coming years – whoever wins the election.
The report is a little light on hard evidence. It cites the Chancellor’s already announced £15.5bn Whitehall spending round boost until 2021; his £100bn infrastructure promises; and it makes claims based on “the main parties’ pre-election stances”. There is also a reference to the Chancellor’s speech of which the “clear implication was that he hoped to increase spending further still in the coming years” — a speech in which he also mentioned the need for low taxes and fiscal responsibility, so much was it trying to be all things to all people.
Meanwhile the Tories talk of cuts to national insurance, but nothing yet about income tax, VAT or corporation tax.
Nevertheless I am increasingly worried that the choices on Brexit might be between variations on Brexit In Name Only, and the choices on the rest of politics between left and far left; between a bigger state and Marxism.