Louth and Horncastle MP Victoria Atkins defended criticism of the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget while appearing on BBC panel show Question Time this week, claiming that the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a COVID-19 hangover are the reason for the country’s struggling economy.
The MP for Louth and Horncastle appeared on BBC Question Time, filmed at Snape in Suffolk, on Thursday evening as she fielded public questions on the government’s recent Autumn Statement, announced by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.
Victoria Atkins serves as Financial Secretary to the Treasury, meaning she played a key role in the delivery of these new financial measures, with tax rises and spending cuts tipping over into the billions in a bid to recover the nation’s economy.
She was joined on the panel by Labour MP and Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary Jonathan Ashworth, the Scottish National Party’s House of Commons leader Sir Ian Blackford, writer and broadcaster Sir Trevor Phillips and Kate Andrews, the economic editor at The Spectator.
The Lincolnshire MP was asked if the British economy could “survive another two years of austerity” to kick the show off, as Atkins responded by calling it a “very sobering moment” within political discourse and the economy, due to the financial pressures facing the government across the world.
Victoria Atkins MP said: “This is a very sobering moment because we’re facing pressures that none of us wanted to face and none of us predicted would happen, and I’m talking of course about the war in Ukraine, but also the hangover from the pandemic.
“We and many other developed economies basically shut down our economy on a series of occasions in order to protect our wider wellbeing.”
The Treasury’s Financial Secretary was also quizzed on the financial implications of ex-Prime Minister Liz Truss’ mini-budget, which saw the pound collapse to its lowest value ever and earned Truss the unfortunate label of being the shortest serving PM in modern British history.
Mrs Atkins added: “Liz Truss herself has said she went too far too fast, but the independent Office for Budget Responsibility has said that by now the impact of that on markets has pretty much flashed through the system.
“The international pressures that we’re facing are being faced by economies around the world, which is why we’re seeing that Germany, Italy and other countries have similar or higher levels of inflation than we do.”
The United Kingdom is the only nation in the G7 to have a smaller economy today than before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Louth & Horncastle MP said the Autumn Statement was designed to lay the foundations for future recovery.
Topics of renewable energy, Brexit, and the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar were discussed on the show, as Victoria Atkins stated that we have “just got to look forward” in terms of Brexit, due to the referendum result being “six years ago”.
“When are we going to start talking about rejoining the single market?”
“That happened six years ago…we’ve just got to look forward”
The Conservatives’ Victoria Atkins cites "international headwinds" as a cause of rising costs in the UK #bbcqt
— BBC Question Time (@bbcquestiontime) November 17, 2022
You can watch Question Time on catch-up via BBC iPlayer.
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