IF you were to judge the Conservatives’ economic record since 2010, their failure to secure a majority in last week’s General Election was richly deserved.

Prime Minister Theresa May and her colleagues might have sneered and sneered at Jeremy Corbyn’s policies during an election campaign that they had thought would be so much of a walkover.

However, such ridicule was entirely unjustified.

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At least Mr Corbyn’s policies would put more money in the pockets of those who need it most. This is good not only for society but also for the economy. The least well-off have to spend all of their money to live, so boosting their incomes benefits the economy.

The Conservatives, albeit not surprisingly, have taken many billions of pounds of annual welfare support away from the poorest, not only increasing the divisions in society but also weighing heavily on economic growth. They have plans for further deep cuts.

The focus of their efforts has been slashing corporation tax, a move that has failed to produce the boom in business investment envisaged by the Conservatives.

And the Tories hiked value-added tax to 20 per cent, a move that hits hardest those on lower incomes who have to spend all or the vast bulk of the money coming in.

Former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling had, in late 2008, cut VAT temporarily from 17.5 per cent to 15 per cent as an emergency measure to stimulate the UK economy as the global financial crisis threatened to plunge the world into depression.

While the situation is thankfully less precarious than it was immediately after the actions of the global financial sector brought us to the brink, there has been more than something of a protracted, grinding misery about the UK’s economic performance over recent years.

And the UK’s already deeply unimpressive economic showing has undoubtedly got even worse in recent months.

For anyone interested in pointing the finger of blame in this regard, they should be doing so in the direction of the Tories.

The UK economy’s recent lurch for the (even) worse has its roots firmly in the Brexit vote last June. And it was former Conservative prime minister David Cameron who, ahead of the 2015 General Election and amid the UKIP clamour, promised the referendum on European Union membership.

The Brexit vote was not expected by some, including Mr Cameron, but the danger of such an outcome was apparent from the outset, in a febrile atmosphere punctuated by depressing anti-immigration rhetoric.

This week, we have continued to see the consequences of the Brexit vote.

Inflation is surging on the back of the tumble in the pound – a drop that reflects the UK’s diminished economic prospects following the vote to leave the EU. And households are paying the price, with high inflation meaning that average pay is, once again, falling in real terms.

Figures on Wednesday from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed average weekly earnings in Great Britain, excluding bonuses, were in the three months to April down by 0.6 per cent on the same period of last year. This was the sharpest year-on-year fall in regular pay since summer 2014.

ONS figures on Tuesday showed annual UK consumer prices index inflation had continued to surge last month, rising from 2.7 per cent in April to 2.9 per cent in May. It was at 0.3 per cent in May last year, ahead of the Brexit vote.

We are, in the wake of last week’s General Election and resultant hung Parliament, hearing much from the business community about the detrimental impact of further uncertainty on the UK economy.

However, the fact of the matter is that the UK’s economic performance was dismal before voters went to the polls.

Figures late last month showed UK economic growth had slowed very sharply in the first quarter, to just 0.2 per cent. And all the signs were that the excruciating post-Brexit vote squeeze on already strained household finances was a key factor in this. The pressure on household finances has since intensified.

Official figures for manufacturing output in recent months have been particularly disappointing, especially given sterling weakness should be helping significantly on the export front.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research think-tank estimated last week that, over the March to May period, UK gross domestic product was up by only 0.2 per cent on the preceding three months.

And a survey on Monday from accountancy firm BDO revealed the key UK services sector had seen growth grind to a halt and was on the brink of decline.

Meanwhile, indicators of consumer weakness are coming thick and fast. A survey on Monday from Visa showed the first year-on -year fall in household expenditure on this measure since September 2013. Consumer spending in May was down 0.8 per cent on the same month of last year, Visa’s survey showed.

And ONS figures yesterday revealed UK retail sales volumes tumbled 1.2 per cent month-on-month in May.

It is interesting to see that Scottish Chambers of Commerce is suggesting a temporary cut in VAT to support consumers and the flagging economy.

But somehow, in spite of everything, the Conservatives have seemed to retain, to a large extent, a reputation for being the party that is most responsible when it comes to the economy, in the eyes of a significant part of the electorate. This is a remarkable state of affairs.