The former Tory chairman delivered a searing attack on Brexit, leaving right-wingers’ fuming.
Chris Patten appeared on BBC Question Time this week and did not hold back on his thoughts about Brexit and the current state of play in Britain.
Conceding that the UK economy is in ‘one hell of a mess,’ the Tory peer tore Brexit apart. He cited the impact the country’s departure from the EU has had on the pound, labour costs and imports, while arguing that Poland and Lithuania are faring much better.
“The truth is we’re in one hell of a mess. Our GDP per capita now is less than not only France, Germany, the Netherlands, it’s lower than Ireland,” the told the Question Time audience, adding:
“It’s lower for heaven’s sake than Lithuania. The poorest 20% in Britain are poorer than the poorest 20% in Poland. That is not the sign of a country which has things going for it.”
Patten, who was chairman of the Tory Party from 1990 to 1992 and was made a life peer in 2005, continued: “But it’s also, and this is a word one isn’t supposed to use anymore, because of Brexit.
“It’s because of what Brexit did to the value of the pound. It’s because of what Brexit has done to make it more difficult for us to import goods and for us to import labour and importing food.
“Now it’s costing us, according to the (London School of Economics), £7 billion more a year because we’re outside the European Union.
“And until we start facing up to the realities of our life, to the fact that we can’t possibly spend money on all the things we want, increase public spending and cut taxes, it’s absolutely impossible.”
While Patten’s criticism of Brexit triggered a near unanimous applause from the Question Time audience, it sparked anger among Brexiteers, with the Tory peer being labelled as ‘woke’ for his views on Brexit.
“Oh here we go another woke driven leftie banging on about the state of Britain,” wrote one irate viewer.
Meanwhile, Sir Michael Take offered some satirical reaction:
“I wake up to Chris Patten belittling our great nation. Now look here Mr Patten you flacid, leftist mouthpiece just think. We are the best at: Pageantry, pomp, Eurovision, trickling down, grooming, fighting Putin, growing the pie, please just ignore this idiot.”
Others alluded to how the labelling of Patten as ‘woke’ and ‘leftie’ shows how just far to the right the Conservative Party has gone.
“The thing is, Patten is neither woke nor leftie – he’s a Conservative politician from the Thatcherite era. People need to realise just how far to the right the current government has lurched.”
Though this isn’t the first time Patten had publicly denounced Brexit. In 2019, the Tory grandee insisted that Margaret Thatcher would have been ‘horrified’ by the Brexit ‘shambles’ and backed calls for a second referendum on EU withdrawal.
Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward
Image credit: Twitter screen grab
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