Tory policy chief: Brexit Britain could end up ‘like an old people’s home that can’t pay for itself’
The UK could end up “like an old people’s home that can’t pay for itself” after Brexit, George Freeman has warned.
The Conservative policy forum chair warned the country was in danger of falling into “economic decline” with unpayable debts and young people fleeing abroad.
Speaking at an economics conference, the Tory MP stressed the need for post-Brexit economic innovation that would help tackle the deficit, and “unleash a entrepreneurship revolution”.
Imagining what an unsuccessful Britain would look like, he asked what if “people got up and left, we pulled out of Europe and became and isolated, small, insular, old, ageing economy. We became an old people’s home that couldn’t pay for itself.”
“That I see as a very real prospect and it chills me to the bone. It is an extreme choice but I think that is the choice we face as a country and the question whether we as a generation rise to it and grip it.”
The former minister said the UK must instead champion innovative and sustainable technologies in order to become a “a happy prosperous purposeful nation again”.
Number immediately distanced itself from the comments, however, with the Prime Minister's spokesman saying: "We believe that Brexit provides an opportunity to build a more prosperous and more secure UK. We're focused on the opportunities that Brexit provides."
Seizing on Mr Freeman's remarks, pro-EU MP Phil Wilson MP said: “The Prime Minister’s policy chief – somebody at the very heart of Downing Street – admits that Brexit could be ‘the moment we finally failed as a great nation’. He is right to sound the alarm about the irreparable damage it could do to our national interests."
He added: “Ministers’ insistence that Brexit must be carried out at any cost, even if it turns us into a third tier country, is a complete betrayal of both Leave and Remain voters. Nobody voted for this nightmare scenario."
The intervention comes just a week before the Chancellor is set to deliver a crucial Autumn Budget.
Mr Hammond is under pressure to increase spending to invest in the faltering housing market and give public sector workers a pay rise.
But this morning he came under fire, with former Number 10 aide Nick Timothy accusing him of lacking the “imagination” to create bold economic change.
In an article for the Sun, Mr Timothy said: “Instead of being bold in seeking solutions, Philip Hammond’s instinct will always be to maintain existing policy, regardless of its quality.
“He lacks a burning desire to change people’s lives for the better, and imagination to see possibilities beyond how the world works today.”