Budget 2016: Shadow business secretary Angela Eagle to say the government has been asleep at the wheel

 
James Nickerson
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Eagle will say that Britain is now being held back by economic threats (Source: Getty)

The UK domestic economy is insufficiently resilient to advancing global threats and not in a high-enough state of readiness to seize on fast-approaching opportunities, the shadow business secretary Angela Eagle will say today.

Speaking at the London Stock Exchange ahead of the Budget, Eagle will warn that there are a number of areas where the Conservative government has failed to build-up Britain's resilience, meaning it is more at risk from global threats, including the skills shortage, poor productivity and "a failure to match their rhetoric on deregulation".

"I remain concerned that the government has been asleep at the wheel. A number of the threats facing our economy are global in nature, they’ve been advancing for some time and we in the opposition have warned about the danger signs before," she will say.

Read more: Flexible working boosts productivity and profits

Warning that unless the government takes action to seize opportunities, such as the "fourth industrial revolution", she will add: "But rather than washing his hands by excusing these threats as global phenomena - of which he’ll say there is little he can do to influence – the chancellor should acknowledge that under his watch domestic structural weaknesses in the UK economy have been allowed to persist."

"They are now in danger of holding Britain back."

The speech comes ahead of chancellor George Osborne's Budget in March, and after MPs on the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee said the government’s so-called productivity plan, first introduced last summer, “lacks clear, measurable objectives and largely amounts to an assortment of existing policies”.

Read more: Skills shortage has reached unprecedented levels

The Labour MP's intervention also follows the UK Commission for Employment and Skills annual survey, which found that employers are unable to find people with the skills or knowledge to fill jobs

Turning her attention to the EU referendum, Eagle will say that the UK's membership brings jobs, growth and investment.

"Nothing will destabilise our economic prosperity and Britain’s place at the heart of the global economy more than a vote for isolationism and turning our back on the world which Brexit would signal. But we are living in volatile, unpredictable times, and we must not take the result for granted," she will say.

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