UKJan 27 2023

Chancellor warns against declinism in growth-focused speech

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Chancellor warns against declinism in growth-focused speech
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said the UK is poised to play a leading role in Europe (REUTERS/Henry Nicholls)
BySally Hickey

The chancellor has warned that the UK must not succumb to “declinism” and highlighted the productivity issues faced by the economy.

In a speech today (January 27), Jeremy Hunt said his priorities for the country include halving inflation, lowering national debt and growing the UK economy.

"Our plan for the years that follow is long term prosperity based on British genius and British hard work,” he said.

“[And] world-beating enterprises to make Britain the world’s next Silicon Valley.”

My plan for growth is built on the freedoms which Brexit providesJeremy Hunt, chancellor

The chancellor said he will focus on certain industries where Britain has a competitive advantage, such as digital technology, green industries, life sciences and advanced manufacturing.

He said some of the “gloom” around the UK economy is based on statistics that do not reflect the whole picture.

“Declinism about Britain was wrong in the past - and it is wrong today,” he said.

Declinism is the assumption that a society or institution is heading towards decline.

“The UK is poised to play a leading role in Europe and across the world in the growth sectors which will define this century.”

A poll of UK economists by the FT showed they think the UK will face one of the worst recessions and weakest recoveries in 2023.

The UK is more highly exposed to the surge in energy prices and interest rates, due to a combination of high reliance on gas with low storage capacity, and a high proportion of mortgage holders required to renew fixed-rate deals in any given year, the FT said.

Hunt was more bullish, saying his plan for growth is “built on the freedoms which Brexit provides”.

This included using the proceeds of growth to support public services at home, he said, supporting businesses in a new low carbon economy and supporting democracy abroad.

“It is the right course for our country and the role in the world to which we aspire.”