British workers are among the most idle in the world, according to a book written by five Tory MPs.

The book ‘Britannia Unchained: Lessons for Growth and Prosperity’ – written by the education minister and South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, now an education minister, as well as Kwasi Kwarteng, Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, and Chris Skidmore – reckoned that people who come into the UK from abroad are prepared to work harder than the indigenous population.

The authors wrote: “Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world. We work among the lowest hours, we retire early and our productivity is poor. Whereas Indian children aspire to be doctors or businessmen, the British are more interested in football and pop music.”

The book also claimed that school pupils were avoiding difficult subjects such as maths and the sciences and this was causing problems in the workplace.

“Instead of hard choices, students apply for a degree in media or business, which will often allow for the study of easier A-Levels,” the MPs said. “As with US colleges, science A-Levels are more harshly marked than those in media or sociology, the difference being up to a grade. In a culture of equivalence, where all subjects are deemed equal, students make the seemingly rational choice of going for the easier option.”

The MPs are all members of the Conservative ‘Free Enterprise Group’. On its website Truss says: “Britain is now 83rd in the world for regulation, 94th for taxation and struggling to compete internationally on education and infrastructure. In many emerging economies markets are viewed as a source of liberation; in Britain they are regarded with scepticism. In the minds of the public the market is decoupled from meritocracy. Liberal economics have been blamed for everything from excessive bankers’ bonuses to misguided monetary policy.

“Conservatives need to recast the argument about free enterprise for a new age, or risk losing the debate to a tide of anti-market socialisation.”