Brexit Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has hit out at “selfish” strikers, claiming that they are hampering productivity in the Civil Service.
The Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency was about the numbers of people in the Civil Service who have returned to the office.
“Well, they were getting better until the railways went on strike,” he told GB News.
“This does show the selfishness of strike action because people being in the office does lead to services being delivered to the British public better.”Jacob Rees-Mogg
“When the railways go on strike, then you’ll find that fewer people are in and this affects the delivery of services, so I think it’s important to underline the selfishness of unnecessary strike.”
Pressed on the cost of living crisis, Rees-Mogg said the Government was tightening fiscal policy in response, with government spending not keeping up with inflation on purpose.
“How do you deal with a cost-of-living problem? You tighten monetary policy, which the Bank of England is doing,” he said.
“You tighten fiscal policy, which is happening. But you also need supply side reforms that make things cheaper and easier for people.”
When asked how he could be claim fiscal policy is being tightened when the Prime Minister has been boasting of £37bn in extra spending, he defended the Government saying: “In real terms yes, because the spending settlements were based on an inflation rate of about 2 per cent and the inflation rate is now 9 per cent so there will be real reductions in the available public expenditure.
“They haven’t been increased with the rate of inflation. So there have been some ameliorations which have had an effect but the total picture will be a tightening of the fiscal situation.”
He added: “It is fundamental to understand the causes because bear in mind inflation hits the least well off in society the hardest.”
“Inflation hits the elderly on fixed incomes and it hits the young just starting in their careers who don’t have a rapidly growing income.”Jacob Rees-Mogg
“It is really important that we tackle the causes of inflation. And this is doing things that are difficult to do, I mean, increasing interest rates is hard for people, tightening fiscal policy is hard for people, therefore we need to go further and faster with supply side reforms because that’s the one thing that ameliorates the otherwise tightening situation.”
Rees-Mogg also suggested that planning regulations in the freeport areas established around the country after Brexit could be relaxed, paving the way for the construction of Canary Wharf-type developments.
He told GB News there would also be tax incentives saying: “Brexit allows us to do it in a way that we couldn’t possibly do it whilst in the European Union because the EU says it’s state aid and so on and so forth.
“You can do all sorts of things with a freeport. It depends how far you want to go but you can give tax advantages, you can have customs-free areas for the freeports.
“You can have, as they had in the [London] docklands when that was developed, you could have specific planning authorities so that you don’t have to go through cumbersome planning regulations.
“There are all sorts of things you could do with freeports, but it is a fundamental freedom being outside the European Union, and what does it do? It allows enterprise to flourish.
“There is an argument we should make the whole of the UK a freeport, but perhaps we will have to be a little patient for that!”
He continued: “It will depend exactly on how the freeport is designed and it isn’t finalised but it is one of the things that you can do, and ports – I was speaking to the Immingham port earlier, they have some proposals that they think under current regulations would take them six years to do.
“Well we need it tomorrow. Not in six years. They’re so sclerotic for the economy so the job must be to make freeports as effective as possible to get things done.”