Last week Eton welcomed Dame Andrea Leadsom to a joint meeting between the Politics and Keynes Societies. An MP since 2010, Ms Leadsom served as Environment Secretary, Leader of the House of Commons and and has twice run for leadership of the Conservative Party – giving her a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with the many pupils who attended her talk.
With twenty-five years in the financial sector before becoming a politician, Ms Leadsom told us she believes that the economy is a key part of well-functioning government policy. She holds the firm belief that the economy comes first, and said, ‘if you can’t get the economy right, you can’t get the politics right.’
If you can’t get the economy right, you can’t get the politics rightDame Andrea Leadsom, MP
Although the GDP of the UK decreased by eleven percent between 2019 and 2020, Ms Leadsom lauded the government policy of pouring cash into the economy through initiatives such as the furlough scheme, so that when we emerged from the worst of the pandemic, the economy was in as healthy a state as possible. She explained that even though we are now facing a huge budget deficit, unemployment rates were largely kept in check thanks to the furlough scheme.
One of the biggest threats to the health of the economy that Ms Leadsom foresees is inflation. As she told us, necessitated by supply chain disruptions, the blunt instrument that is interest rate adjustments may prove insufficient to keep inflation in check – with rates already well above the Government’s aim of two percent.
However, she says there is plenty to be positive about, with the green economy providing exciting opportunities. Ms Leadsom – also a former Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – said, ‘the green economy is going to be the jewel in our crown,’ and is the biggest economic opportunity.
With the potential of the UK becoming a massive exporter of green technologies, from wind turbines to green hydrogen, Ms Leadsom believes that the freedom to agree new trade deals faster than before is a huge advantage.
Furthermore, with such an enormous variety of jobs set to be created, the green economy offers a huge opportunity to level the playing field and put the UK back on the global map.
As we emerge from the COVID pandemic, there are clearly unending opportunities for growth, or ‘levelling up’. She argued that environmentally focused initiatives are not a hindrance to growth, but instead an enabler of it. It will be up to us to take advantage of that incredible opportunity.
The Political and Keynes society would like to thank Dame Andrea Leadsom for her insightful talk.