Archbishop of Canterbury joins TUC chief and top Labour figures for think tank study into inequality and Brexit

Frances O'Grady 2016 TUC

A leading left-wing economist who has advised John McDonnell today joins the head of the TUC, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leading figures from business to launch a new inquiry to “rewrite the rules” for the economy in the aftermath of Brexit.

Mariana Mazzucato, an academic, Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, and the Most Rev Justin Welby are among a host of public figures to have signed up for the Commission on Economic Justice.

The group has been put together by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), one of Britain’s leading centre-left think tanks, and will consider Britain’s deep-rooted economic problems, such as a shortfall in investment, inequalities between the regions and the vast gap between the wealthiest people in society and people on low incomes.

Mazzucato was among a series of big-hitting economists who were brought in to advise Labour last year but who criticised Jeremy Corbyn in the aftermath of the EU referendum. Mazzucato, who teaches at the University of Sussex, and four other advisors said Brexit represented a “major disaster” for Britain, and that they were unhappy with the Labour leader’s efforts in the campaign, but stopped short of resigning, saying they would be “honoured” to advise the party in future.

Today Tom Kibasi, director of the IPPR, said Britain’s economy “isn’t working for everyone”.

“The Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump, shows we must build an economy with economic justice at its heart. The problems we face aren’t temporary weaknesses in an otherwise sound model. The foundations of our economy need to be rethought. The rules of the economy need to be rewritten. We need big, bold and ambitious change. Rethinking by half just won’t do,” he said.

“The IPPR Commission on Economic Justice has brought together a new alliance for change, with its unprecedented group of Commissioners. It will be the most ambitious programme of policy innovation outside government that will take place this decade.”

The commission is the latest piece of intellectual heavy-lifting carried out by people on the left since Labour’s general election defeat and which has included the Beckett review, into why the party lost, the establishment of an economic advisory committee by Corbyn and McDonnell, and a Tom Watson-led independent commission into the “gig economy”.

The IPPR said its new body would consider investment; trade; the deficit; the gap between the richest and the poorest; regional inequality; and climate change.

“Economic justice and real dignity for working people has never been more necessary,” O’Grady said.

“The IPPR Commission on Economic Justice offers a golden opportunity to take the long view, build a broad consensus and help shape an economy that works for everyone. Britain needs a new bargain for workers – fair pay, better jobs and a real say in how companies are run.”

The Most Rev Welby said: “This is a unique opportunity to reflect on the vision for our economy for the next 20 years and, in a time of significant change and uncertainty, seek to put our economy on foundation of values and virtues.

“I am hopeful that this Commission’s work can lead to a tangible and hopeful set of recommendations, that go beyond party politics and make the case for an economy that delivers for the common good.”

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