Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will today use a speech to give a coded attack on UKIP, accusing it of wanting to “pull up the drawbridge and shut Britain off from the world.” Although not mentioning the party by name, Mr Osborne will nonetheless warn the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) of the “populist right” as well as the political left, saying they threaten the country’s free-market economy.
The Telegraph reports that in his speech, Mr Osborne will suggest that only the Conservatives will stop Britain sliding into an “anti-Business” era of high taxes, trade barriers and heavy regulation, and will call on business leaders to get more involved in political debate.
He will say: “For all of my adult life, since the fall of the Berlin Wall in the year I left school, there has been a political consensus in this country that Britain’s future lies as an open market economy.
“Sadly, that consensus that we put the national economic interest first — ahead of opportunist party advantage — is under threat for the first time in 25 years.”
He will blame this treat on the protectionist and regulatory policies of both Labour and UKIP, although will decline to name them directly:
“Political parties on the Left and the populist Right have this in common: they want to pull up the drawbridge and shut Britain off from the world.
“They want to constrain foreign investment in our economy, and deprive us of the British jobs that it has created in industries from car manufacturing to energy. They want to set prices, regulate incomes, impose rent controls, wage war on big business, demonise wealth creation, renationalise industries — and pretend that they can re-establish control over all aspects of the economy.”
His intervention comes as the front page of today’s Guardian says that Labour and Conservative attacks against Farage have “backfired”. Internal polling for both parties indicates that support has leaked away to UKIP despite weeks of media attacks, with people seeing the frenzied attacks as little more than the establishment ganging up on Nigel Farage’s party.