IT seems that, the worse the economic leadership from the Conservatives becomes, the grander the statements that emanate from Cabinet members.

Anyone who thought rambunctiousness and ideological tub-thumping were going to dissipate in the wake of king of Brexit Boris Johnson departing will by now be thinking again.

The theatrics would be far less irksome were the economic situation, and crucially its effect on the living standards of millions of households, not so serious.

Experts including former Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane, and Tesco and Barratt Developments chairman John Allan have rightly highlighted the Conservatives’ lack of a growth plan.

And it must be said that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s speech last week, in which he seemed to attempt to provide a response to such criticism, was truly astounding.

Mr Hunt was a Remainer back in 2016 but he really seems to have caught the Brexit bug.

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Before reflecting on what Mr Hunt had to say on Friday, in a speech at financial information company Bloomberg’s London office, it is worth noting some non-political realities. Brexit has fuelled a labour and skills shortage crisis in the UK and weighed heavily on trade. There is no end of experts who will confirm this. Tory Brexiters might have their fingers in their ears but not hearing something does not make it go away.

The speech from Mr Hunt seemed, in many ways, like déjà vu all over again, to use a phrase attributed to New York Yankees baseball legend Yogi Berra.

However, while familiar given the ruling Conservatives’ persistent refusal to take responsibility for the Brexit damage, the Chancellor’s utterances were nevertheless remarkable.

It would probably have been best for Mr Hunt, if he did not want to draw attention to the fact that the Conservatives did not have a plan for growth, to say nothing at all.

That, however, would probably be out of character.

And, instead, the Chancellor declared: “That plan, our plan for growth, is necessitated, energised and made possible by Brexit. The desire to move to a high-wage, high-skill economy is one shared on all sides of that debate.

“And we need to make Brexit a catalyst for the bold choices that we’ll take advantage of – the nimbleness and flexibilities that it makes possible. This is a plan for growth and not a series of measures or announcements which will have to wait for budgets and autumn statements in the years ahead.”

Without wishing to sound churlish, the ruling Conservatives have been striving desperately to make Brexit a success ever since the result of the referendum in June 2016 saw the Tory Leavers basically take charge. More than that, they have almost been willing it to be a success when its effect has of course been entirely the opposite: utterly detrimental.

Mr Hunt talked about the plan for growth being “a framework against which individual policies will be assessed and taken forward”.

And it became more cringeworthy and devoid of meaning as it went on.

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Mr Hunt said: “I set out that plan, those priorities, under four pillars. They build on the ‘people, capital, ideas’ themes set out by the Prime Minister last year in his Mais lecture and as such are the pillars essential for any modern, innovation-led economy.

“For ease of memory the four pillars all happen to start with the letter ‘E’. The four ‘Es’ of economic growth and prosperity. And they are enterprise, education, employment and everywhere.”

The big letter for Mr Hunt is surely 'A' – for austerity. After all, he is the man who last autumn decided to embark on an excruciating squeeze on public spending at the worst possible of times, and went back on the previous two-year promise of support on household energy bills made by former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng and erstwhile prime minister Liz Truss.

Mr Hunt went on to talk about how he set up and ran his own business for 14 years and how this was one of the best decisions he ever made.

And, seemingly paying tribute to Tory predecessors, he added: “I actually owe it to Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson.”

Mr Hunt went on to talk about himself a bit more, and then wandered on to some Tory dogma about needing “lower taxes”.

Still no plan for growth.

Then it was back to Brexit again as Mr Hunt declared: “Brexit is an opportunity not just to change regulations but also to work with our experienced, effective and independent regulators to create an economic environment which is more innovation-friendly and more growth-focused.”

Many might understandably fear here that Mr Hunt is talking about an environment which is less secure – one in which the lessons of the global financial crisis are no longer heeded for example.

He went on in some tiresome detail from “enterprise” to “education”, “employment” and “everywhere”.

But nowhere was there any sign of an actual plan for growth.

And it did not stop there.

The Treasury issued a press release on the speech, which also quoted other senior Tories.

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And we had this from Business Secretary Grant Shapps: “We stand at the cusp of a new age, facing a technological revolution that will transform the world as deeply as the industrial revolution did in the nineteenth century.

“The UK has an opportunity to be at the forefront of this revolution, building upon our world-class research infrastructure and open markets to scale up the business titans of the future here in Britain, in everything from AI to quantum, from robotics to biotechnology.”

Never mind AI, it would be better if the Tories just applied some good old-fashioned intelligence in trying to kick-start a UK economy choked by their policy errors.

And what about that “cusp of a new age” stuff?

Yes, the worse things get, the more pompous the message from the Conservatives as they either continue to ignore, or fail to perceive, the economic realities facing a country that is most certainly not at the forefront of anything like as much as the Tories think it is.