Tony Blair has set a devastating trap for Keir Starmer to walk into | Politics | News

Sir Tony Blair has set a devastating debt trap for Sir Keir Starmer, a former MEP has said. John Longworth warned taxes could rise under a Labour government as Britain’s debts pile up, hitting taxpayers for generations to come.

Mr Longworth, writing for the Daily Express, compared national debt under Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher to the level when Tony Blair was in Downing Street and to now.

He said Britain’s national debt to GDP was 32 percent under Thatcher, 29 percent when Blair was in power and is approaching a “scary” 100 percent today.

That debt is equivalent to a year’s worth of what Britain produces and is mounting up thanks to interest payments, which will ultimately be paid for by taxpayers, according to Mr Longworth.

The Chairman of the Independent Business Network accused the Blair administration of “sneakily” introducing off-balance sheet methods of raising money, such as “unaffordable” student loans and Public Finance Initiatives (PFI), which he said will also be a multi-billion pound liability to taxpayers.

PFI was a procurement policy where private firms were contracted to complete and manage public projects. Launched in 1992 by then Prime Minister Sir John Major, PFI was expanded by the Blair government. Its detractors argue PFI was used to place a great amount of debt “off-balance-sheet”

Mr Longworth argued other factors will make matters worse when combined with PFI and student loan debts. He said: “On top of this horror upon horrors ahead, we have totally unaffordable, gold-plated and growing public sector pensions paid for by workers out of hard-earned monies, adding insult to a raid on private sector pensions.

“All of this adds up to a vast sinkhole into which our national wealth will disappear. If only it were even deployed usefully to train apprentices to do productive work, PFI to fund toll roads which pay back, a productive and smaller state rather than the diminished public sector productivity of recent years. But it is not.”

Despite the long-standing controversy over PFI, Sir Keir Starmer plans to use it to boost UK infrastructure, even though there are fears it may be turn out to be more expensive than using public funding.

PFI was ditched by the Conservatives in 2018 after some NHS trusts needed bailouts over the high cost of such schemes.

Labour’s manifesto included a pledge private finance could be used to pay for infrastructure, including roads, rail and energy installations.

Under its proposals, the taxpayer would take on a greater proportion of the risk in projects funded by both the Government and private sector.

Mr Longworth warned: “Governments cannot continue spending beyond our means, because it is our money, not theirs, and pretending everything is ok in order to boost their popularity.

“The chickens will come home to roost, there will be a reckoning and this government is likely making it disastrously worse.”

HM Treasury has been approached for comment.

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