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The real cause of Tory woes

“Magical thinking”? Kwarteng and Truss at the Tory party conference. Leon Neal/Getty

When historians look back at Britain’s current predicament, they will discern one overriding cause, says Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian: Brexit. There’s the “obvious impact” of our economy being 5.2% smaller than it should be, which makes surging inflation much harder to deal with. Then there’s the outbreak of “magical thinking” that Brexit triggered. The ludicrous belief that leaving a trading bloc of your closest neighbours could somehow make you richer led directly to the nonsense of Trussonomics. Most important is the “sovereignty delusion”: the idea that taking back control from Brussels would mean Britain becoming “the sole master of its destiny”. There is no such thing as “pure, untrammelled sovereignty” in our interdependent world – as Kwasi Kwarteng found out when his mini-Budget was flatly rejected by the markets. The “Tory hallucination of an island able to command the tides was no more than a fever dream”.

The problem for the Conservatives, says James Kirkup in The Times, is that to get growth going they’ll have to reverse their stance on two key issues: immigration and housing. With our ageing population, Britain’s economy is “only going to need more labour”. Big Business knows this – at the Tory conference, the boss of one of Britain’s biggest companies told Truss acolytes he was moving operations to countries “where I can find the workers I need”. As for housing, the Conservatives have to accept that eternally rising house prices – and the inequality they’re causing – are “a problem, not a blessing”. Addressing these issues will require some fairly “unconservative” policymaking. But there are some global trends governments can’t control. “Parties claiming they can stand in the way of such forces only end up crushed beneath their wheels.”