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'Crime Minister' Jeremy Browne warns of threat to living standards
‘OUR living standards are under serious threat’ – that was the bleak warning from the ‘Crime Minister’ as he addressed business leaders in Taunton this morning.
Elected to represent Taunton in 2005, Mr Browne retained the redrawn and renamed Taunton Deane constituency in 2010 and then earned a place in the Coalition Government as a Foreign Office Minister serving under William Hague.
Reflecting on his globetrotting period representing the nation in places like Asia and Latin America, he warned: “There’s a huge change taking place in the world. The global order that has existed, arguably since the rise of the USA or the industrial revolution, will change in a generation as part of a global revolution.”
He said Prime Minister David Cameron’s current visit to Brazil underlined the importance of the rise of Asian and Latin American countries – a perfect storm, he said, when many Western economies are struggling.
Brazil has just taken the UK’s place as the world’s sixth largest economy and Mr Browne spoke of a ‘lack of willingness to confront the seriousness of our situation.’
“The money has run out and we have been living beyond our means for an extended period of time,” he added, “we have some serious questions to face up to. The UK still borrows £1billion every three days.
“The threat to our living standards is very serious indeed. Some countries will make the transition in coming years, and some won’t.”
In last month’s reshuffle he was switched to Minister for Crime Prevention in the Home Office.
This morning he joked with guests that in naming the new role advisers had steered away from titles with precarious acronyms and the ‘cough-as-you-say-it’ Crime Minister.
He added: “The reshuffle was interesting from an inside perspective. For example, most people if they are going to change job have more than a minute’s notice … and they normally apply for it too.”
Mr Browne said the Government was establishing a national crime agency to tackle problems including people trafficking, drug smuggling, fraud, child abuse and prostitution.
But he said his role also covered ‘doorstep’ issues with immediate relevance to voters like anti-social behaviour, lower level crime and licensing.
Mr Browne was asked about his achievements in the Foreign Office and hopes for the Home Office by Taunton Deane councillor Ian Morrell, who hopes to stand against him as Conservative candidate at the next general election.
In reply, Mr Browne cited diverting resources to growing economies, including the until-now ‘neglected’ Latin America; and to illustrate an ambition to cut crime he gave the example of incoming scrap metal trade regulations which show action against a problem caused by global prices where the impact is felt by communities in Somerset who fall victim to metal raiders.