A FORMER chair of the Tory Party was applauded on Question Time after saying that politicians were not telling people the truth and stressing “we’re in one hell of a mess.”

Chris Patten, who has been chancellor of the University of Oxford for the last 20 years, told the BBC audience Brexit had worsened the current economic situation, and leaders like Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer had to “fess up”.

Patten said: “The truth is that our political establishment is very reluctant to tell electors, to tell the great majority of people who are in the middle ground in British society, what the truth is. And the truth is, we’re in one hell of a mess.

“Our GDP per capita now is less than not only France, Germany, the Netherlands, it’s lower than Ireland. It’s lower, for heaven’s sake, than Lithuania.

“The poorest 20% in Britain are poorer than the poorest 20% in Poland. That is not the sign of a community, of a country, which has things going for it.”

Patten then brought up comments made by the eminent US economist Larry Summers, who made headlines on Thursday for saying that Brexit would be remembered as an “historic” economic mistake.

Commenting on inflation rates in the UK, which are higher than the US or euro zone, Summers went on: “[Brexit] reduced the competitiveness of the UK economy, put downwards pressure on the pound and upwards pressure on prices. [It] limited import goods, limited in some ways the supply of labour, all of which contributed to high inflation.”

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Patten noted Summers’s comments, before telling the QT audience that inflation was impacted by a number of factors, including the money spent on mitigating energy prices and the furlough scheme.

He went on: “But it’s also, and this is a word we’re not supposed to use anymore, it’s also because of Brexit.

“It’s because of what Brexit did to the value of the pound. It’s because of what Brexit has done to make it more difficult for us to import goods and for us to import labour. And importing food now is costing us, according to the LSE, £7 billion more a year because we’re outside the European Union.

“Until we start facing up to the realities of our life, the fact that we can’t possibly spend for all the things we want, increase public spending, and cut taxes. It’s absolutely impossible.”

He said that both Sunak and Starmer had to “fess up to the fact that we have to tell people what they’re going to have to expect in the next few years because I think it’s going to be very tough to get out of the hole that we’re in”.

Recent data from the ONS showed that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) put UK inflation at 8.7% in the 12 months to April 2023. This was higher than the US or the euro zone.

In the 20 countries that use the euro currency, inflation was at 7% in the same month, according to the European Union’s statistical agency Eurostat.

In the US, the labor department reported an inflation rate of 4.9% in the 12 months to April 2023.