George Osborne MP

29 Nov 2011 07:21:39

"Without a healthy environment we don't have an economy, we don't have a future" says Zac Goldsmith MP

By Joseph Willits 
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GoldsmithZac Goldsmith would rather be known by the term "effective backbencher", than "rebellious backbencher". In a BBC Hardtalk interview today with Zeinab Badawi, rebellion and party dissent over Europe and the environment, proved to be the main focus. Although critical of the Government over its handling of an EU referendum, Goldsmith insisted that he remained loyal to the party:

"I have voted with my party more than 90% of the time ... if that is anything other than loyal, then I think we need to rethink those terms" 

However, Goldsmith indicated his delight for fighting political causes and holding the Government to account as a backbencher, rather than in the "hellish existence" of a junior minister. "I didn't stand for election in order to have a lobotomy and to be programmed by a party leader", he said.

Goldsmith defended the Government on environmental policy, saying it had been "unfairly chastised" and that "twice as many environmental commitments as anything else ... [are] being delivered". He praised both the Green Investment Bank, saying it was "a step in the right direction", and the Green Deal. Although the Government was "beginning" to understand the priority behind environmental policies, he said, the Green Investment Bank, however, was "not big enough, or soon enough", and it was essential that Treasury got "behind... and turbocharged" the Green Deal.

Continue reading ""Without a healthy environment we don't have an economy, we don't have a future" says Zac Goldsmith MP " »

8 Sep 2011 10:51:02

Osborne, Hague and Pickles voted against Dorries/Field amendment

By Paul Goodman
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Here is the list of those who went into the No lobby to oppose the Dorries/Field amendment.  It included such senior Conservatives as George Osborne, Ken Clarke, Cheryl Gillan, William Hague, Eric Pickles, David Willetts, Sir George Young.


Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, rh Danny

Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Continue reading "Osborne, Hague and Pickles voted against Dorries/Field amendment" »

11 Aug 2011 16:12:37

Osborne tells Commons that Britain would be thrown into a "financial whirlpool" if it retreated from deficit reduction

By Tim Montgomerie
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The Chancellor of the Exchequer took the opportunity of the recall of parliament to update MPs on the government's economic plan. Highlights are pasted below.

Screen shot 2011-08-11 at 14.23.12

Private and government debt got the world into this mess: "The crisis of confidence in the ability of Eurozone countries to pay their debts has spread from the periphery to major economies like Italy and Spain. But these events did not come out of the blue. They all have the same root cause. Debt. In particular, a massive overhang of debt from a decade-long boom when economic growth was based on unsustainable household borrowing, unrealistic house prices, dangerously high banking leverage, and a failure of governments to put their public finances in order. Unfortunately, the UK was perhaps the most eager participant in this boom, with the most indebted households, the biggest housing bubble, the most over-leveraged banks and the largest budget deficit of them all."

Britain is a safe haven in an international storm: "The market for our government bonds has benefitted from the global flight to safety: UK gilt yields have come down to around 2.5% - the lowest interest rates in over 100 years; And earlier this week the UK’s Credit Default Swap spread, or the price of insuring against a sovereign default, was lower than Germany’s. This is a huge vote of confidence in the credibility of British Government debt and a major source of stability for the British economy at a time of exceptional instability. And it is a reminder of the reckless folly of those who said we were going too far too fast."

International market confidence is good for British homeowners and workers: "The very same rating agency that downgraded the United States has taken Britain off the negative watch that we inherited and reaffirmed our AAA status. This market credibility is not some abstract concept – it saves jobs and keeps families in their homes. Families are benefitting from the lowest ever mortgage rates and companies are able to borrow and refinance at historically low rates thanks to the decisions we have taken."

There will be no retreat from deficit reduction: "Let me make it clear not only to the House of Commons but to the whole world. Ours is an absolutely unwavering commitment to fiscal responsibility and deficit reduction.  Abandoning that commitment would plunge Britain into the financial whirlpool of a sovereign debt crisis, at the cost of many thousands of jobs. We will not make that mistake."

The €urozone needs greater fiscal integration: "I have said many times before that the Eurozone countries need to accept the remorseless logic of monetary union that leads from a single currency to greater fiscal integration.  Many people made exactly this argument more than a decade ago as a reason for Britain staying out of the single currency – and thank God we did. Solutions such as euro bonds or other forms of guarantees now require serious consideration. And they must be matched by much more effective economic governance in the eurozone to ensure fiscal responsibility is hard wired into the system. The break-up of the euro would be economically disastrous, including for Britain, so we should accept the need for greater fiscal integration in the Eurozone, while ensuring we are not part of it and our own national interests are protected."

23 Mar 2011 06:34:00

George Osborne says operations in Libya will cost tens, not hundreds, of millions of pounds

By Jonathan Isaby

George Osborne Commons Despite the fact that the Budget is today, yesterday saw the four-weekly hour of questions to George Osborne and his Treasury team in the Commons.

There were a variety of last minute requests from MPs, all of which were met with variations on "wait and see".

But during topical questions, Andrew Tyrie, the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, chose to ask a very topical question:

"Will the Chancellor make every effort to keep the House informed about the cost of our operations in Libya by providing an estimate at the earliest opportunity? Will he also tell us whether those costs will be funded from the Ministry of Defence budget or drawn from the Treasury reserve?"

George Osborne indicatd that he had been given notice by Tyrie of his intention to try and catch the Speaker's eye to ask that question, enabling him to prepare the following answer:

"The House will understand that it is too early to give a robust estimate of the costs of the operations in Libya, but I can say that they should be modest compared with some other operations, such as Afghanistan. The MOD's initial view is that they will be in the order of tens of millions of pounds, not hundreds of millions. I can tell the House today that whatever they turn out to be, the additional costs of operations in Libya will be fully met from the reserve."

9 Feb 2011 07:17:04

Three sharp questions for George Osborne from his backbenches

by Paul Goodman

George Osborne bested Ed Balls yesterday.  But the Treasury team also faced three sharp questions from its own side, which the sketchwriters have duly picked up this morning.  Here they are in full, together with the answers.

First -

"Mr David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con): There is a lot of public disquiet about alleged enormous sweetheart deals done with major public companies-Vodafone and others-in the last five years. Three or four months ago, I tabled a question asking how many of these deals had been done, costing more than £100 million at a time. The answer I received was that the information requested was "not readily available" and could be provided "only at disproportionate cost". I received a similar blocking answer this morning. When is the Minister going to tell the House what HMRC has been up to?

Mr Gauke: The National Audit Office has investigated and examined that as a matter of course. There is no question of sweetheart deals. The reality is that HMRC is seeking to recover as much tax as is due. That is what it has done in a number of cases. I am not going to comment on individual cases. That is a matter of confidentiality; I do not get to see the details. None the less, I think wild allegations have been made against HMRC, for which there is little or no evidence."

Second -

"Mr Douglas Carswell (Clacton) (Con): The Chancellor is entirely right to emphasise the need to be careful with public money. Will he therefore please explain his role in approving the deal to make the UK taxpayer liable for billions of pounds to bail out the euro under the European stabilisation mechanism? Will he respond to my freedom of information request, and publish the advice that he was given on the agreement on assuming office?

Mr Osborne: First, I will look at my hon. Friend's FOI request, because I have not seen it. The broader point that I would make is that my predecessor as Chancellor, in the weekend between the general election and the creation of the new Government, agreed to the creation of the European stability facility. That involves a UK commitment which takes place on the basis of qualified majority voting; we do not have a veto. I made it clear to the previous Chancellor at the time that I did not support what he had done. However, it has happened and we have to live with the consequences."

Third -

"Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth and Horncastle) (Con): Do Treasury Ministers agree that the real problem with bankers' bonuses is that they are paid not out of profits, but out of revenues? Taxing banks after the bonuses have been paid merely depresses dividends, particularly for pension funds. Why are bankers' bonuses not paid out of profits, as they always were by my very efficient stockbroking firm?

Mr Hoban: My hon. Friend makes an important point. Of course, under the old regime, there was no clawback when bonuses were paid out in cash, and no lock-up. The new code on remuneration introduced by the Financial Services Authority, which is ahead of international practice, has clear rules on deferral, requires that bonuses be clawed back for poor performance, and requires that bonuses for significantly highly paid members of staff-those who take risks-be paid out principally in shares, not in cash. That will ensure that the interests of bankers are aligned with those of shareholders."

8 Feb 2011 14:56:29

George Osborne wins first Commons exchange with Ed Balls

Tim Montgomerie

Screen shot 2011-02-08 at 14.41.08

Highlights, not verbatim.

Ed Balls and George Osborne clashed for the first time as Chancellor and Shadow Chancellor.

Mr Balls began by saying it was a privilege to be holding his portfolio at a time of such economic importance. He joked that he was glad he didn't have a breakfast meeting this morning or he would have missed the Chancellor's mini-budget, delivered at 7.32am to the Today programme. He then said snow was not a good excuse for poor growth figures given that other nations did grow despite experiencing extreme weather.

Mr Osborne welcomed Mr Balls to the despatch box and noted he was the second choice Shadow Chancellor of a man who was Labour MPs' second choice as Labour leader. He described Ed Balls as the architect of the deepest recession, the biggest budget deficit and the largest housing crash.

In his second question Ed Balls asked the Chancellor why he didn't have a Plan B given that his Plan A was producing faltering growth and consumer confidence.

Osborne said he wouldn't be taking advice from the man who, when City Minister, knighted Fred Goodwin and, as a Labour leadership candidate, became a deficit denier. Ed Balls, he said, didn't even have a Plan A for the deficit.

Mr Osborne was then helped by a series of Tory backbenchers who asked him to comment on Ed Balls' past performance. What was worst, David Tredinick asked, Mr Balls' gold mis-selling, the budget deficit or his bank regulatory system? Mr Osborne said it was hard to choose but the tripartite system of financial regulation was pretty catastrophic.

4pm: Video update:

22 Nov 2010 16:54:00

Osborne refuses to rule out helping other €urozone nations in Commons statement

Tim Montgomerie

Screen shot 2010-11-22 at 16.25.42Highlights, not verbatim.

In his statement to the Commons on the Irish bailout George Osborne made it clear that Britain had been at the heart of the negotiations with Ireland about the conditionality for the facility agreed for it. He said there should be no requirement for Dublin to change its corporation tax regime.

Responding to the Shadow Chancellor, Alan Johnson, who implied that Eire's deficit reduction plan was an explanation for its difficulties, the Chancellor said that no international actor who had been part of the negotiations over the bailout had argued that Dublin needed to moderate its fiscal adjustment.

Responding to Andrew Tyrie, Mr Osborne said he planned to use the December EU summit to leave the general bailout facility.

Mr Osborne dodged a question from Mr Redwood when he sought reassurance that Britain would not be part of a bailout of other €urozone nations. The Chancellor instead explained why he had specifically agreed to support Ireland.

Screen shot 2010-11-22 at 16.41.03 David Blunkett asked why the government could not have added £100m to the £7bn facility so that the last government's loan to Sheffield Forgemasters could have been restored? Mr Osborne said that this help for Ireland will prevent damage to the UK economy, including Sheffield's economy.

Alan Beith said that constituents were angry about bailing out British banks. They will be angrier still at bailing out foreign banks.

Douglas Carswell asked the Chancellor to confirm that while Britain was outside of the €urozone it was part of an effective Debt Zone. The Chancellor replied that he had always opposed the €uro but he needed to deal with the world as it is. Not how he'd like it to be.

Responding to Labour's Gisela Stuart Mr Osborne agreed that adjustment would be harder for Ireland because the country would not have currency flexibility.

The Chancellor told Peter Bone that leaving the €uro had not been part of the bailout negotiations.

21 Oct 2010 06:43:32

George Osborne's Despatch Box demolition of "deficit denier" Alan Johnson

By Jonathan Isaby

Picture 27 After George Osborne's statement on the Comprehensive Spending Review, there was a response by newly-installed shadow chancellor, Alan Johnson - to which the Chancellor himself in turn got the chance to reply.

The broadcasters were busy analysing the main statement itself by this stage, but it's worth quoting here some of George Osborne's demolition of Johnson - and it would appear that one of the Chancellor's aides had sight of the same email from Alan Johnson which I reported on yesterday afternoon here.

Osborne said of his opposite number:

"He’s a nice guy, but he’s in the wrong job. The truth is this: frankly, either member of the Balls family would have done a lot better than that, and they might even have asked me a question or two, but let me try to respond to what he said.

"The right hon. Gentleman keeps talking about a plan B, but he has not even got a plan A. There was a complete denial of the fact that this country has the largest budget deficit in the G20. He made no acknowledgement of the fact that the credit rating agencies were looking at this country when he was in the Cabinet and no acknowledgement of the fact that our market interest rates were the same as Spain rather than others. Frankly, he spent half his statement defending the economic policy of the last Labour Prime Minister — who perhaps could have turned up to hear it — but that is totally irrelevant to the questions put before the House today and the proposals that we have set out.

"The right hon. Gentleman kept saying, 'We want to reduce the deficit'. As far as I could tell, he did not agree with a single measure that I set out. He did not propose a single saving. He is a deficit denier, and the truth is this:

"We have been told for a whole year that we would get Labour’s deficit reduction plan. Before the election, let us remember, we were told in the debates, 'Don’t worry, it’ll come after the election.' During the leadership contest, we were told that it would come after the leadership contest. After the leadership contest, we were told that it would come before the spending review, and then this morning, a member of the shadow Cabinet said on the radio, 'We are not going to do an alternative to the spending review'.

"I then got this message in the Chamber that said that at eight minutes past 1 this afternoon, when the shadow Chancellor was actually in the Chamber, he sent an e-mail to members of the public saying 'I’m going to be honest with you, being in opposition... does mean we have to set out a clear alternative', and he then said, 'Please share your thoughts with us'.

"Labour Members were in government until six months ago. They sat round the Cabinet table as the deficit increased. Six months later, they have not put forward a single idea for reducing the budget deficit. It is absolutely pathetic."

I wonder if Ed Miliband is yet regretting his choice of shadow chancellor...

13 Oct 2010 05:33:00

George Osborne confirms intention to eliminate deficit by 2015 in first Commons clash with Alan Johnson

The Treasury Questions exchange, as recorded in Hansard.

Alan Johnson, the new Shadow Chancellor: "Will the timing of the spending cuts that are to be announced next week be exactly as laid out in June’s emergency Budget, and will the Chancellor confirm that the aim continues to be that the deficit will be eliminated by 2015?"

George Osborne: "First, I should welcome the right hon. Gentleman to his new role on behalf of all Government Members. I did the job for five years, and I hope that he does it for even longer than I did. The answer to his question is yes."

Alan Johnson: "Well, the reason I ask is that there was some speculation at the weekend, when the Energy Secretary suggested, in a rather unfortunate yachting analogy, that he would not be “lashed to the mast” with a particular set of spending numbers. That is important, because from my vast experience in this job I am absolutely clear about this: the Chancellor says that the deficit was wrong and that his emergency Budget measures were unavoidable, but I believe that it is the other way round. The deficit was unavoidable if we were to avoid financial meltdown, and his Budget proposals were entirely wrong—wrong because they would, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, have two and a half times the adverse effect on the poorest as on the richest in our society, and wrong because he is seeking to cut public spending before there is any momentum for private sector spending in our economy."

Mr Osborne: "Quite frankly, being in opposition involves choices, just as being in government does. The right hon. Gentleman talks about the Budget; there is a simple choice before the House today, which is whether we proceed with a graduate tax. Lord Browne’s report says that such a tax would add £3 billion to the deficit and would not produce savings until 2041. That is a real choice on the deficit before us today. The right hon. Gentleman is the shadow Chancellor and opposes a graduate tax; is he going to assert his authority over Opposition tax policy?"

15 Jul 2010 17:08:22

Osborne's OBR pledge proves the new power of Select Committees

By Paul Goodman

George Osborne on Politics Show Peter Hoskins has posted a brief account on the Spectator's Coffee House site about this morning's Treasury Select Committee appearance by George Osborne.  The Chancellor promised to allow the committee to approve his proposed new appointments to the Office of Budget Responsibility - thereby giving them the power to veto his suggestions if they wish.

I left the Commons largely because I believed it was changing for the worse.  So it's right to acknowledge that in some ways the place is getting better.  The cross-party election of Select Committee Chairman has been a democratic revolution.  MPs from previous Parliaments especially told me that they've found canvassing support from political opponents a liberating experience - as they line up with them as legislators to hold the Executive to account.

Continue reading "Osborne's OBR pledge proves the new power of Select Committees" »

26 Mar 2010 06:26:49

George Osborne gives a tour-de-force on day two of the Commons Budget debate

Picture 1
Yesterday saw day two of the Budget debate, with George Osborne opening for the Opposition in a chamber virtually bereft of Labour and Lib Dem MPs.

Picture 2 The Shadow Chancellor gave a tour-de-force with some lots of attacks on the Government and some good jokes, beginning with some teasing of his absent opposite number...

"I welcome this opportunity to begin the second full day of the Budget debate, because it gives us the opportunity to bring to the House’s attention all the things that were in the Budget but not actually mentioned in the Chancellor’s Budget speech. The debate will give us all a chance to reflect on what the rest of the country thought about the Budget — which is: not a lot — and the fact that only three Labour Back Benchers have turned up to support the Government’s final Budget suggests that the parliamentary Labour party does not think much of it either. [Interruption.] Or, indeed, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He normally turns up, but there we go. He did not turn up for his “Today” programme interview either, so, after an empty Budget, we got an empty chair. Anyway, it is a pleasure to be debating these matters with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the right hon. Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), because one thing is certainly clear. Depending on the result of the election, either she will be living in No. 11 Downing street or I will, so it is good for us to have this early debate.

"It normally takes 24 hours for people to see through these Labour Budgets, but this one disintegrated within about 24 minutes. Even before the Chancellor sat down, it was clear that he had completely failed to rise to the challenge of the times we face and the expectations of his high office. We know that the country faces a storm of economic problems. One in five young people cannot find work. Our recovery is one of the weakest in the G20, and our banking system cannot finance that recovery at the moment. Family incomes are being squeezed, and we have the largest budget deficit of any country in the developed world. Our credit rating is under threat, confidence is lacking, manufacturing is shrinking, exports are falling and business investment has collapsed. Everything cries out for urgent action, for energy, for vision, for leadership and for new ideas to get our economy moving.

"But what did we get yesterday from this exhausted, discredited Government? Absolutely nothing at all. An empty Budget. An exercise in politics, not an example of governing. The only ideas of any substance in this Budget are Conservative ideas. Taking first-time buyers out of stamp duty? Now, I knew I had heard that before, and when I did my research, it turned out that I had announced it at the Conservative party conference three years ago."

He then went on to go through a number of other measures which were either stolen from the Conservatives or attempts at imitating them, before getting on to the things that were not mentioned in the Budget statement:

Continue reading "George Osborne gives a tour-de-force on day two of the Commons Budget debate" »

6 Jan 2010 06:37:37

Not a single Labour backbencher yesterday spoke in favour of the "load of nonsense" that is the Government's flagship Fiscal Responsibility Bill

The debate on the Second Reading of the Government's FIscal Responsibility Bill - the one which would put a duty on the Government to halve the budget deficit into legislation - was far shorter than it normally would have been due to a series of statements at the beginning of business.

It was not until 6.26pm that Shadow Chancellor George Osborne got to his feet to speak in opposition to the Bill:

George Osborne Commons "Although this piece of legislation consists of only six short clauses, it must be the biggest load of nonsense that this Government have had the audacity to present to Parliament in this Session. Quite frankly, I do not think the Bill is the idea of the Chancellor of the Exchequer or any of his Treasury Ministers, or indeed of any official in the Treasury. It was dreamt up by the Schools Secretary and the Prime Minister when they were trying to think of something to say on the “Andrew Marr Show” on the eve of the Labour conference, so now we all have to go through the rigmarole of debating it in Parliament. The Bill was a completely feeble stunt."

Yet over the following three hours, not one Labour backbencher was moved to deliver a speech in favour of the BIll, as shadow Treasury spokesman David Gauke noted in his summing up:

GAUKE DAVID "This has been a somewhat curious debate. I do not know whether there has been a precedent for such a Bill. The Bill was at the heart of the Prime Minister’s party conference speech in 2009; it was the flagship economic Bill in the Queen’s Speech; and it is the centrepiece of the Government’s economic strategy to reduce the deficit. However, I wonder whether we have ever had such a Bill, because it has attracted not a single voice of support from Back Benchers on Second Reading.

"I suppose that the Government might have hoped that in a time of crisis the country would unite around them as they set out to address the problem, but as it happens the Bill has managed to unite the House in opposition. The fact is that we have had only two contributions from Labour Back Benchers in the debate. I do not know where the rest of the parliamentary Labour party are tonight—they may be plotting, once again, if the rumours that have been reported this evening are true—but not one Labour Back Bencher could be prevailed upon to speak in support of the Bill."

All in all, yet more evidence of Labour MPs having already given up the ghost. Indeed, the only backbench Labour MPs to give speeches were Frank Field and Katy Clark, who explained why they were not supporting their Government's Bill.

Jonathan Isaby

3 Nov 2009 22:26:32

George Osborne tells Commons that the fresh bank bailout will cost every family £2,000

29 Apr 2009 14:35:51

George Osborne mocks the Government's growth projections

George Osborne It was Treasury questions yesterday.

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne poured scorn on the Budget growth forecasts:

"As the Chancellor knows, the growth forecasts that he gave us in the Budget last week, which predicted a return to boom levels of growth in just two years, and that the economy would stay at those boom levels, were greeted with near-universal derision, yet they were the fiction on which he constructed every other Budget forecast. When he gave those forecasts, did he know that the IMF was planning to contradict them flatly just an hour later?

Mr. Darling: Yes, of course I knew the IMF forecasts. The IMF takes a more pessimistic view, not just of our economy but of every economy across the world. However, we ensure that our forecasts are based on the information that we have. If hon. Members look at the IMF and its forecasting over the past three months, they will see that it has downrated its forecasting three times since last October, which demonstrates the uncertainty in the system. However, I believe that because of the action that we are taking, because of the fact that we have low interest rates, because inflation will be coming down this year, and because of the action that most other countries are taking to look after and support their economies, that will have an effect, which is why I remain confident that we will see growth return towards the end of this year.

Mr. Osborne: Frankly, I do not think the Chancellor is in any position to lecture anyone else about downgrading their forecasts after last week. Is not the truth this—that the dishonest Budget has completely unravelled in the space of just a week? We have seen the IMF produce those growth forecasts, which were wholly different from the ones given an hour earlier to the House of Commons. We have the CBI saying that there is no credible or rigorous plan to deal with the deficit. We have the Institute for Fiscal Studies pointing to the black hole, and yesterday a former member of the Cabinet, beside whom the Chancellor sat at the Cabinet table, said that his tax plans were a breach of a manifesto promise that is damaging not just to the Labour party, but to the economy. Today we had the Prime Minister getting a lecture in prudence while he was in Warsaw. We are used to Polish builders telling us to fix the roof when the sun is shining, but not the Polish Prime Minister as well.

Does not the collapse of the Budget in the past week and the damage to the Chancellor’s credibility make an almost unanswerable case for an independent office for Budget responsibility, so that we get independent forecasts on Budget day and the assumptions of the Budget are believed by the public?

Continue reading "George Osborne mocks the Government's growth projections" »

23 Apr 2009 20:31:56

George Osborne's response to the Budget

Republished in full below, as prepared.

"Mr Deputy Speaker,

It is a great pleasure to open the second day of this debate as it gives us an opportunity to look at the detail of the Budget and then to highlight the things the Chancellor chose to omit from his speech yesterday.

And it is a pleasure to do so opposite the Energy Secretary. The Chancellor has indicted to me that he is on his way to an important meeting in Washington and I of course entirely accept that. My RHF may want to put in an important call to the IMF for any number of reasons.

But it is a pleasure to be opposite the Energy Secretary today. He is always an engaging fellow.  And he of course was one of the key economic advisers of the last ten years. One of the Members of the then Chancellor’s Council of Economic Advisers – one of the adjutants in that famous treasury bunker.

To be fair he’s always said he stuck to giving the economic advice rather than trying to run the political operation, but given what has happened to the British economy maybe in the interests of his long term ambitions he should take credit for the political operations and leave Mr McBride to give the economic advice.

This is a special debate. Normally the Government’s Budgets take a few days to unravel.

This one set a new record.  It unravelled half an hour after the Chancellor down.

At 2pm the IMF produced its growth forecasts for the world and British economy that completely contradicted the growth forecasts this House had just been given.

Instead of the economy going from a staggering 3.5% contraction to a fantastically optimistic 3.5% growth just two years later, the IMF said the recovery would be much slower – indeed Britain would still be contracting next year.

This, of course, is the same IMF that the Prime Minister wants as his new early warning system.

In a stroke they destroyed the credibility of the whole credibility upon which the whole of the Budget and its borrowing figures were built - that within the space of just two years the British economy will bounce from the deepest recession it has known since the War to the levels of economic growth and household consumption seen at the height of the boom is a complete fantasy.

No wonder one paper this morning described the whole thing as Alistair in Wonderland.

Judging by the look on his face, I guess that means the Energy Secretary is the White Rabbit and our beloved Prime Minister is the Mad Hatter on this work of fiction.

Continue reading "George Osborne's response to the Budget" »