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Keir Starmer accuses Tories of turning Britain back into ‘sick man of Europe’

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Keir Starmer accused the Conservatives of turning Britain back into the “sick man of Europe” in a budget response that attempted to focus attention on to the Tories’ economic record over the past 13 years.The Labour leader attacked the government for presiding over more than a decade of economic stagnation and low wages, with the Office of Budget Responsibility still forecasting the biggest drop in living standards since records began.“Like millions across our country, this budget leaves us stuck in the waiting room, with only a sticking plaster to hand,” said Starmer. “A country set on a path of managed decline, falling behind our competitors; the ‘sick man of Europe’ once again.”He said the UK had experienced “13 years without wage growth, 13 years no better off, 13 years stuck in a doom-loop of lower growth, higher taxes and broken public services”.Starmer’s focus on the broader economic outlook reflected the overall tone of the House of Commons response to the budget.MPs praised or complained about individual items, but there was not the shocked outrage over the entire package that characterised the response to Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget just six months ago.Some of Starmer’s heaviest criticism was aimed at the budget’s biggest surprise measure – the abolition of the lifetime pension tax allowance, which will benefit anyone who can build a pension pot of more than £1m.“[The chancellor] made a big spending commitment which will benefit those with the broadest shoulders when many people are struggling to save into their pension,” Starmer said. “We need a fix for doctors but the announcement is a huge giveaway to some of the very wealthiest.”Other Labour MPs were more upset by what was not in the budget than what was

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