Osborne Accuses Labour, UKIP of Isolating U.K. From Business

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will today accuse the opposition Labour and U.K. Independence parties of seeking to isolate Britain and risking its recovery.

Speaking the day before European elections expected to show his Conservatives lingering in third place behind Ed Miliband’s Labour and Nigel Farage’s UKIP, he will tell business leaders that support for the left and the populist right threatens to damage the U.K.’s standing as a free-trading and free-market economy for the first time in 25 years.

“Political parties on the left and the populist right have this in common: they want to pull up the drawbridge and shut Britain off from the world,” he will say in a speech at the Confederation of British Industry, according to prepared remarks released by his office. “We now see a deeply pessimistic, depressing, anti-business agenda.”

While UKIP advocates withdrawing from the European Union, Labour has attacked the Tories as ignoring the cost of living, promising energy-price freezes and further taxes on bank bonuses and higher earners. Recent polls for the European elections show UKIP and Labour alternately in first place, with the Conservatives third.

‘Economic Decline’

The policies advocated by these parties will put Britain on a path of “relative economic decline,” and lead to price increases due to a lack of investment in the energy industry, as well as job losses as companies take their business elsewhere, according to Osborne.

“For all of my adult life, since the fall of the Berlin Wall in the year I left school, there has been a political consensus in this country that Britain’s future lies as an open, market economy,” he will say. “That consensus that we put the national economic interest first, ahead of opportunist party advantage, is under threat for the first time in 25 years.”

Osborne will urge business to support the Tory policy of offering a referendum on EU membership in 2017. “Anyone who cares about our long term economic prosperity should get behind our plan to seek fundamental reform of the EU and of Britain’s relationship with the EU,” he’ll say. “For those who say that a referendum creates uncertainty, I say: a referendum is the only way to resolve the uncertainty that already hangs over Britain’s relationship with Europe.”

While the chancellor will acknowledge that optimism in Britain is growing, he’ll reiterate his commitment to austerity.

“Our task to secure our country’s economic future is not even half done. This is a decade-long turnaround job we have embarked on, and we are determined to see it through.”

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