Summer – a time to rest?
Two Brexit items were on the MSM agenda. Both depend on Johnson becoming the next PM. These are the proposals for a budget should there be ‘No Deal’, and the Brexit- and BoJo-wrecking proposal by the MPs Grieve (Tory), Clarke (Tory) and Beckett (Lab) which we mentioned yesterday.
Oh – our dear friends in Brussels have of course had to put their tuppence in … Mr Verhofstadt, for example, has waded into the Tory membership debate with some uncalled-for ‘advice’. Someone tell him please that this is an inner-party affair, not even a national one, so his interference is hugely misplaced, to say it mildly:
“[…] he said Mr Johnson had ‘duped’ British voters to back Leave in 2016 and and ‘drummed up fears’ that staying in the EU would lead to a surge in immigration. Mr Verhofstadt said Mr Johnson would ‘most likely soon find himself in a position where he must make good on his promises’ as he accused the former foreign secretary of continuing to ‘spread untruths’. […] Labelling Mr Johnson a ‘populist’, Mr Verhofstadt said: ‘As is often the case with populists, reality does not square with Johnson’s ensorcelling combination of false promises, pseudo-patriotism, and foreigner bashing.” (link)
“Ensorcelling”? Cor blimey! This is the usual concoction peddled in the MSM in the EU member states, sadly believed by a majority of the people living in the EU. To round up the ‘news from Brussels, here’s another lovely ‘Project Fear’ item to scare Brexiteers, reported in RemainCentral, The Times:
“Jean-Claude Juncker could stay on as president of the European Commission if there is a no-deal Brexit on October 31, a senior source has said. His five-year term is due to end on that day but he could be asked to stay on to avoid a power vacuum at the same time as a no-deal crisis, according to a minister in a European government.” (link, paywalled)
Oooh – we better tell those Tory Party members to vote for Hunt, hadn’t we … especially as the MSM campaign to elevate him doesn’t seem to have worked so well, given this plaintive headline: “Tory members STILL want Boris to be PM” in the DM. Can nothing and nobody stop BoJo? Will he make poor M Juncker stay? Wouldn’t that be cruel and unusual?
Next, let’s look at that emergency budget, necessary in case of No Deal. Here is one report according to which there’d be tax cuts. So – not a catastrophe then, but Remain economists see things differently, of course:
“If Boris Johnson wants Britain ready for a no-deal Brexit, an emergency budget would be an essential start. Most economists believe that leaving the European Union would at the very least slow growth sharply and probably tip the country into recession. Economic stimulus is the standard response. His plans would be expensive. Raising the threshold at which people pay national insurance to £12,500 would take 2.4 million people out of tax but cost at least £11 billion a year, the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates. Raising the 40p income tax threshold from £50,000 to £80,000 would help another 2.5 million people but cost £9 billion annually.” (link, paywalled)
The writers come up with textbook examples of why such budget will be ‘expensive’ and thus shouldn’t really be attempted, but agree that it might work even though growth might be slower. I wonder though if the news from Germany in recent weeks about a threatened recession has reached their ivory towers. This would affect us should we still be In, no? There’s more:
“Nobody quite knows how much his commitment to deliver full-fibre broadband to every home by 2025 will cost, but it won’t be cheap. The good news is that fiscal stimulus does buy growth, as John Maynard Keynes established. The question is, how much growth will Mr Johnson get for each £1 of stimulus? […] Mr Johnson’s £25 billion to £30 billion emergency budget stimulus could get him 0.5 per cent extra GDP growth to offset a no-deal slump. But it won’t be cheap. Weaker growth would automatically increase borrowing even before any stimulus. All in all, an emergency budget may work. But it would be desperate.” (link, paywalled)
‘Desperate’? ‘Won’t be cheap’? ‘It’ll cost you, matey’? But staying in, with all the financial liabilities, never mind the threatening economic slow-down if not recession, is perfectly fine and totally affordable? Only in Remain Cloud Cuckoo Land!
And finally, that Grieve Amendment … this is the latest:
“Downing Street accused a former cabinet minister of gross irresponsibility for an attempt to shut down government funding in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Dominic Grieve, the former attorney-general, and Dame Margaret Beckett, the former Labour foreign secretary, have tabled an amendment to government expenditure plans that have to be approved by parliament on Tuesday. The amendment would deny funding to key departments, including money to pay benefits, if a prime minister triggered a no-deal Brexit without parliamentary approval.” (link, paywalled)
“Will they stop at nothing?” asks the headline in The Express – no, is the answer, they will not. ‘Intransigence’ is too posh a word for their behaviour. I’d call it pigheadedness, or perhaps age-related stubbornness …
“Downing Street” is not exactly known for their Brexit support, so their observation and intervention should carry some weight. But nooo, not when Arch Remainers like Grieve and Clarke are playing in the last chance saloon for Remain:
“Mr Grieve […] insisted it was a proportionate response to the threat of a no-deal Brexit. “What is grossly irresponsible is leadership candidates who intend to be prime minister in four weeks’ time saying they are prepared to contemplate taking the UK out of the EU without the approval of the House of Commons,” he said. “That is incredibly irresponsible constitutionally. The House of Commons has very limited ability to stand up to behaviour of this kind. What the Commons has is the power to withhold supply, and putting in this amendment is intended to prevent the government doing something it shouldn’t even be contemplating.” (link, paywalled)
‘Behaviour of this kind’ – what on earth does he mean? ‘Shouldn’t be contemplating’ – to do what Cameron promised to do three years ago? Is the fact that, after three years, a new PM might actually fulfil these promises, to take us Out, ‘irresponsible’?
Is Mr Grieve now blaming all his HoC colleagues for being ‘irresponsible’, with only himself, Mr Clarke and Ms Beckett – where’s Ms Cooper in this? Sir Oliver Letwin? Mr Hilary Benn? – being the grown-ups? Unbelievable! Has he forgotten that the HoC voted with majorities for the legal instruments enabling us to Leave, from the running of the EU referendum onwards?
To crown it all, in a stunning intervention, the current PM – yes, she’s still there! – is making clear that, as far as she is concerned, ‘loyalty’ cannot be expected when it comes to getting us Out:
“Theresa May has warned her successor, whichever of the last two leadership candidates it may be, that he cannot expect her blind loyalty towards his Brexit strategy.” (link, paywalled)
Good to know how loyal Ms May is! Perhaps Boris Johnson ought to expand his stance of “Accept no-deal as an option or lose job, Boris Johnson warns cabinet” (link, paywalled) and threaten such ill-disciplined MPs with de-selection, even if it’s a former PM?
Tory writers have speculated about a possible BoJo Cabinet – me, I’d like to know who his Chief Whip will be. A certain Mr Williamson was very effective before he moved to the MoD.
Meanwhile, enjoy the summer which has finally arrived, but don’t take your eyes off the Brexit Ball.