My greatest goal in politics is a strong economy. Without that, it becomes almost impossible to deliver any other political goal. We need sound public finances and a strong economy to fund the NHS, schools and all the public services we value. I believe that this issue is central to the choice facing voters at this election.
In 2010, Labour left us with the worst deficit in our peacetime history. Last year, UK economic growth was better than all but one other major advanced economy. We have cut the deficit by almost two thirds – dealing with our debts to help secure stability and prosperity for the future. In cash terms, the deficit is down from £151.7 billion in 2009-10 to £51.7 billion in 2016-17. As a share of GDP, it is down by almost three quarters.
An astonishing number of jobs have been created since we took over, around 1000 for each day we have been in office. Employment is up by 2.8 million. That’s 2.8 million more people with the security of bringing home a regular pay packet. There are now more women in work than ever before. We have also cut income tax for 31 million people.
A coalition of chaos led by Jeremy Corbyn propped up by the Lib Dems and the SNP would put all that at risk.
Since the start of the election campaign, Labour and the Lib Dems have been making more and more spending commitments without credible plans for how to pay for them. Jeremy Corbyn thinks the last Labour government ‘actually spent too little’. A cautious analysis of the Labour manifesto indicates that Labour have a £58 billion black hole in their spending plans. This would have to be paid for by every family in the country with higher taxes and more debt.
The hardship faced by countries around Europe during the banking and sovereign debt crisis shows what happens when governments lose control of the public finances and borrow more than they can afford: our public services suffer, people on low incomes suffer, jobs are lost, and living standards fall.
A Labour-Lib Dem coalition led by Jeremy Corbyn would wreck the economy. That would mean less money for our schools, less for the NHS, less for policing, less for our armed services, and less for all our other priorities. Only a strong and stable government led by Theresa May and the Conservatives can lock in the economic progress we have made.
Theresa Villiers was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland under David Cameron and is the Conservative candidate for Chipping Barnet, a seat she has held since 2005.