Talk of tax rises is one thing – but we are in denial about the damage our economy faces

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Coronavirus, Brexit, a crisis in the public finances, international trade wars… any one of these would be sufficient to ensure a sharp if not prolonged economic recession.

But taken together? And if you throw in the growing impact of the climate crisis? Can we even imagine the scale of the damage to people’s lives the combination of these misfortunes will – very soon – inflict?

It certainly doesn’t seem that we want to. Such imminent realities haven’t really sunk in, even now. We seem more bothered about what happened to Harry Maguire than economic armageddon. The mood is of denial.

Take the stories about swingeing public spending cuts and tax hikes over the weekend. Scary stuff, maybe put around to gauge reaction for a later fiscal adjustment – no one thinks they’ll happen this year or next. But they did not provoke much of a debate about what will be the consequences of having an economy that is scarred by Covid-19, Brexit and the rest. Instead the rumours seem only to have served to provoke a Tory backbench and Labour backlash, to the effect that they are not likely to happen.

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