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Speaking to Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey MP, has criticised Johnson’s “red-tape” Government as he vows never to rejoin a coalition with the Conservatives. 

Bright Blue interviewed the Liberal Democrat Leader as part of the new edition of its Centre Write magazine, released today, discussing the current state of the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party. In the interview, Mr Davey commented on the outgoing PM’s Government: 

“They’ve tied up lots of businesses in red tape. This is the red tape government, red tape party: businesses who just want to sell their goods now have more forms to fill in than they’ve ever had.”

When asked if this was due to Brexit:

“It’s actually the bad trade deal. They didn’t have to do it like this. But they chose to do it like this. They chose to implement a trade deal which is deeply damaging to British interests, which means to consumers, which means to businesses, which means to employees, which means to the taxpayer. So they’ve intervened far too much by putting too much red tape on exporters and importers. I don’t know which side of Jeremy Corbyn they’re trying to copy but it’s the wrong side.”

 Mr Davey then spoke about the current Prime Minister: 

“I respected, not agreed with, every Prime Minister in my adult life. Some I disagreed on particular issues, and sometimes more generally, but I respected them. I had no respect for Boris Johnson. I think he was against the national interest in a profound way. I don’t even think he thought about the national interest.”

The Leader of the Liberal Democrats then spoke about his experience when talking to voters: 

“We’ve knocked on a lot of doors in Tory heartland seats. Yes, there were some Tories, lifelong Tories, who say I’m not voting for Conservative while he’s [Boris Johnson] the leader. There were far, far greater who had a much greater sense of feeling that the Conservatives had moved away from where they were, feeling that the Conservatives were taking them for granted. For some, they didn’t like the levelling up agenda. Some just felt they weren’t answering the cost of living. Farmers were pretty cross with what’s going on. So a whole set of groups.” 

He continued: 

“I see authoritarianism running rampant in parts of the Conservative Party and parts of the Labour Party. I don’t see an agenda of freedom. One reason I’m a liberal is I believe in things like free trade, competition, free enterprise. And I see parts of the Conservative Party who don’t seem to believe in that anymore.”

When asked if he would ever consider forming a coalition with the Conservatives:

“Well the answer is no. It’s quite simple.”

In his article for Centre Write, Dr Gerard Lyons, Chief Economic Strategist at Netwealth and a Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange, outlines a new economic roadmap for the incoming Government:

Taxes should be neutral, simple, and predictable. They should also be easy to collect and pay.

“Since the last general election, there has been little credibility in tax policy. Outcomes have been different to the promises. Admittedly there has been a pandemic, but even allowing for this, a plethora of tax hikes have taken place that were unnecessary.

“We need world class public services, but taxes should not be on an autopilot to rise in order to fund the state. It highlights the need for public sector reform as well as keeping public spending under control. It should focus attention too on the vital role taxes play in influencing behaviour and determining how our economy works.

“It is the nature of the inflation shock that explains why tax cuts will not be inflationary. If inflation was caused by an overheating domestic economy, with buoyant demand, then there would be reason to be wary of cutting taxes now. But that is not where we are. Inflation has been triggered by supply-side pressures, and by an inappropriately lax monetary policy last year.”

In his article for Centre Write, Luke Tryl, UK Director of More in Common, condemns those trying to making schools the next battleground for culture wars:

“It is clear that there are some who would like to make schools the next front in the so-called culture wars, something that not only risks creating division, but would also be a major distraction from returning to the education reform agenda.

“Parents have little interest in these fights too. When polled what measures should be prioritised to help better prepare children and young people for adult life, the top results were focusing on the basics like English and Maths, proper work experience and supporting young people’s mental health. Clearly, the public think the focus should be on these key issues, rather than debates which only excite a minority.

“The fact the pandemic has set back years of progress in raising school standards is a travesty. But it would be truly unforgivable if the hard work and energy needed to repair that damage is instead diverted to overblown culture war battles that serve neither parents or children well.”

In his article for Centre Write, Matthew Taylor CBE, former Chief Adviser on Political Strategy to the Prime Minister and current Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, outlines how the NHS can overcome its current issues: 

The feast and famine funding of the NHS has been disastrous. The near decade of austerity from 2010 saw health spending increase at around half the average rate since its creation and less than half the rate most health economists say is necessary to meet the demands of rising public expectations, expensive forms of treatment, and population ageing. This meant the NHS went into the COVID-19 pandemic with around 100,000 staff vacancies and a crumbling estate. The NHS spends around a third less incapital less per staff member compared with the OECD average.

“There is talk on the Conservative right that the NHS is a bottomless pit, obsessed by wokery and staffed by ‘feckless’ managers. Instead, we need a mobilising vision of the completely different future model of health care, one in which what is in reality a National Sickness Service actually lives up to its proud name, and in which each of us are in control of how we avoid illness and thrive mentally and physically.”

This edition of Bright Blue’s Centre Write magazine also includes contributions from former Chairman of the Conservative Party, Andrew Bowie MP, Deputy Director of the Institute for Government, Dr Hannah White OBE, Professor of Climate Change Economics and Policy at the University of Oxford, Prof Sam Fankhauser, Convener of The Citizens’ Convention on UK Democracy, Graham Allen, and many more.