Author Archives: Fraser Coppin

Now is not the time for a return to austerity

This week it looks likely that the Chancellor will announce a freeze on public sector pay and cuts to the foreign aid budget. There are also murmurings of more harsh spending cuts and tax rises on the way. If Sunak and the Tories are planning on a return to austerity then this would be a huge mistake, and the Liberal Democrats should oppose it.

There is no urgent need to cut spending or raise taxes right now. Borrowing is currently extremely cheap, and bond yields are likely going to remain low for a while. Even in the event that interest rates do start to rise, we can take the opportunity while costs are low now to borrow over a longer period of time, in fact we’re already borrowing over longer terms than any other OECD country so it’ll be a while before we have to start paying most of this debt back.

In these conditions policy makers can afford to be less constrained than they were in the past. There has never been a better time for some new ideas, and to build back better.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 39 Comments

How we can stop a hard Brexit NOW: The case for the EFTA option

Brexit is an absolute shambles.

Theresa May’s new Chequers deal did little to convince her own cabinet, let alone anybody else, and Labour in opposition are offering nothing either. All the while Britain is bitterly divided, and appears to be close to taking a long walk off of a short pier.

There is however a ready-made solution that could sort this mess out, and that is for the UK to join the European Economic Area (EEA) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). This arrangement already works well for Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein, and it could work well for Britain too.

By joining the EFTA Britain would remain in the single market, providing peace of mind to the business community, and the hundreds of workers whose jobs currently hang in the balance. We would also have access to the trade agreements that the EFTA states already have with Canada, Mexico and others, which would further alleviate the economic risks of a hard Brexit. In addition, EFTA countries have a significant amount of influence over single market legislation, which May’s plan would not give us. EEA membership would also allow us to retain freedom of movement, which would secure the futures of over 3 million EU citizens currently living here, that this government is ready to betray.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 109 Comments
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