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Hague: Brown's red tape and high taxes are damaging Britain

Today we have yet more evidence of the damage that Gordon Brown's handling of the economy threatens to do to Britain.

For all Gordon Brown's boasts, his talk of prudence and his claims to have ended boom and bust, he is setting a course for the British economy that threatens to throw away the best opportunity we have had for decades. He talks a good game, but it is all spin and no delivery. He talks right, but he acts left.

Thanks to the Conservative reforms of the 1980s and 1990s, Gordon Brown inherited a relatively low tax, lightly regulated, flexible and dynamic economy. Yet over the past four years everything he has done has taken us in the opposite direction. Rather than trumpet his achievements today, he should be admitting that he has spent four years living off his inheritance at the same time as undermining Britain's future.

Across the world Governments have been waking up to the fact that the successful economies of the future will be based on low taxes and light regulations. They will be the magnets for new investment and the stimulants of prosperity.

In the United States the Bush administration has proposed tax cuts totalling some $1.3 trillion. But it is not just happening in the United States. Even in Europe they are beginning to follow suit. France has announced tax cuts of £12 billion, while in Germany taxes are being cut to the tune of £15 billion.

Yet under Labour, Britain has been swimming against this global tide of low taxes and light regulations.

That is confirmed today in an article in the American business magazine, Forbes, which states that Tony Blair has been 'quietly loading the British economy down with new taxes and regulations that threaten to erode the advantages of doing business in Britain'.

According to Forbes, Labour are introducing ten new pieces of red tape a day, while the cost to business of complying with new regulations has gone up by a staggering £16 billion since 1997. No wonder Forbes dubs Tony Blair 'Red Tape Tony' and Britain as 'Labour's Red Tape Factory'.

Add to that the £25 billion increase in the total tax burden and you begin to see the real costs of doing business under Labour. And far from adopting the tough approach to public spending that Gordon Brown claimed this morning, he plans to increase spending faster than the economy grows year after year, so that taxes will have to go up again.

Just at the time when we should be maximising our opportunity to exploit the advantages of the new global economy Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are throwing it all away. They are being taxing and regulating us into yesterday. They are putting future investment, jobs and prosperity at risk. They are strangling our competitiveness.

The next Conservative Government will set British business free. We will be a tax cutting government, and we will be a regulation slashing government. At the same time, while matching Labour penny for penny on essential public services like health and education, we will spend only what the nation can afford.

The next Conservative Government will allow our entrepreneurs to flourish by getting the taxman and the bureaucrat off their backs. Instead of holding them back we will allow them to embrace the opportunities that exist in the global economy.

Under the next Conservative Government Britain will once again be the best place in the world to do business.

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