We need change at the Treasury

Congratulations to Rishi Sunak. He is  able and hard working, with a knowledge of the expenditure side of the Treasury from his role as Chief Secretary.  

The immediate task is to challenge Treasury officials into completing the change from the Maastricht economics of austerity to a pro growth optimistic economics that chimes with the Prime Minister’s vision. Boris has been clear we want growth, opportunity and levelling up. The aim  is prosperity, not austerity. The purpose is more people in better paid work, more owners, a better spread of wealth and income around the whole UK.

You do not achieve that by writing the Maastricht rules back into the fiscal framework, nor by hiking taxes or trying to tax the rich out of the country. I think The PM was right to want common working between the Chancellor’s team and his own. The leaks, briefings and rows about the forthcoming budget were not helpful. I expect Rishi to spend more time on persuading Treasury officials to complete their journey. They need to move on  from  pessimistic Hammond style economics which said the UK cannot be a success on  her own and needs to beg to stay close to the EU, to an optimistic global UK approach. We need to grasp the future by investing in it. We need a bigger and  more prosperous private sector, which requires lower tax rates and a holiday from  yet more prescriptive regulation.

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  1. Mike Stallard
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Lower tax, dear boy, lower tax.

    • Peter Wood
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink


      Along with lower tax, how to stop BJ from spending on wild ideas, he has form in this regard. Will Mr Sunak simply hand over the government cheque book or will he apply his banking knowledge and obvious ability in arithmetic to keep the classics dreamer, and us, in good stead?

      • Leaver
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 11:12 am | Permalink

        Agree with this point. If you lower taxes, you need to lower spending. Likewise higher spending needs higher taxes.

        The U.S Republicans have spent years arguing they can increase the tax take by lowering taxes – using the trusty Laffer curve.

        Unsurprisingly, this has never happened, and the US deficit has continued to balloon.

        • Fred H
          Posted February 14, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

          You can lower taxes if spend is scrutinised for return and justification. Hairbrained schemes to benefit 1% of the population or consumer should be weighed against investment that benefits much higher proportion of people.
          An example is Reading station and track overpass cost £1bn. We could provide approx 100 such schemes around the country instead of the daily 50,000 (?) travellers on HS2 saving 20 minutes looking at tunnel walls or bland landscape.

        • Edward2
          Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

          The relationship isn’t that straightforward in my opinion.
          Lower taxes can increase economic activity which leads to growth in the economy.
          Part of the proceeds of growth can then be used by the government for spending.

          There are some recent examples of lower tax rates resulting in higher revenues, the reduced top rate of income tax is one.
          And when capital gains tax was increased from 18% to 28% revenues fell despite the Treasury predicting there would be big increases in revenues.

          • Leaver
            Posted February 15, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

            You say ‘when capital gains tax was increased from 18% to 28%, revenues fell, despite the Treasury predicting there would be big increases in revenues.’

            I cannot find any evidence for this. Where is your data from? Also, people probably handed over lots of stuff before the deadline, so a short-term fall would be predictable. I assume you mean over the medium to long-term?

          • Edward2
            Posted February 15, 2020 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

            It is easily found on the internet.
            And yes it can be seen over the medium term to have reduced expected revenues.

            Some economists think people won’t alter their behaviour and their financial decisions when the government alters taxation but they do.
            But my main point is that in the past, raising and lowering taxation were tools Chancellors used to manage the economy, to control inflation and control growth.

          • Leaver
            Posted February 16, 2020 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

            ‘It is easily found on the internet.
            And yes it can be seen over the medium term to have reduced expected revenues.’ (Edward2)

            Where? I have looked on the internet. It is not there. Could you tell me which site you saw this informatio on?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Lower, simpler and more rational taxes, a bonfire and red tape, cheap reliable energy, less market interference in energy, transport, housing, healthcare, schools universities, charities ………! Freedom and choice for individuals with their own money.

      Krugman said on Politics Live yesterday that 60% of republicans in congress deny climate change is happening.

      I doubt this very much as climates changes and always has done. What these people probably (and very sensibly) think (as do most sensible and rational scientists) is that a little extra CO2 is not going to give us a catastrophic, irreversible climate Armageddon – which is rather different. On balance a little more CO2 is probably a net good. The vast costs of reducing CO2 surely does far more harm than good and the money could be far better spent saving lives now. So they are very sensible in fact (why only 60%) can we have much more of this view at no 10 and in the Parliament here please.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        So what do you think of this PPE graduate appointment then?

        • Richard1
          Posted February 14, 2020 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

          He holds an MBA from a leading business school and was trained in the investment banking division of a leading international bank, probably the best training there is in business / economics / finance. Almost up there with our distinguished host, who would of course have been the top pick as chancellor.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

          Let is hope he is one of the circa 5% of PPE graduates who seem to be sensible. Hopefully he is the complete opposite of someone like the dire Ed Davey.

      • Richard1
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        I heard Krugman also. He talked a lot of nonsense about how unnecessary the fiscal consolidation was after the great Labour bust. A 10%+ budget deficit in a country which already taxes its citizens to the max, which was the position in the U.K. in 2010, isn’t sustainable mr prof, and the removal of the Brown Labour govt restored confidence. and did not lead to the recession and 5m unemployed so confidently and tediously forecast by assorted de haut en bas ‘Keynesian’ and left leaning experts. (though I doubt Keynes would have agreed with them, he thought govt spending should max be 25% of gdp).

    • Matthew
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      Hear, hear!

      Three cheers for this brilliant, and may I say even ‘otherworldly’ suggestion by this undoubtedly bloody good chap!

      Hip! Hip!
      Hip! Hip!
      Hip! Hip!

      • hope
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        Hang on, Hammond is mooted to get a peerage. Surely you only honour those who deserve it for outstanding service. that is above and beyond what is normal. Johnson is in charge.

        • Bob
          Posted February 14, 2020 at 11:21 am | Permalink

          Hammond provided outstanding service to Brussels.
          Let them honour him. Likewise for Bercow.

          • Fred H
            Posted February 14, 2020 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

            (Dominic Grieve is the president of the Franco-British Society. He was awarded the Legion of Honour.) There must be one of the EU countries that appreciate their efforts!

        • Matthew
          Posted February 15, 2020 at 8:55 am | Permalink

          Of course.

          But I’m afraid I don’t see the relevance to the earlier reply or question.

          I understand those in the know see Hammond as a wet.

          I, being (increasingly irresponsibly) dyed-in-the-wool, find it harder to see chaps on our side in a negative light, though I’m sure the bright amongst us, who do see more clearly must be right.

          So I will do what I habitually do, and assume the best, and that the peerage system got it right, and maybe we haven’t been behind the scenes and seen why he deserves it.

          That being said, the Labour appointees to the peers are definite head-scratchers. I used to see the Peers as absolutely head-and-shoulders above MP’s. But because of those Labour peers, I’ve grudgingly been forced to accept that it’s a paltry 40%:60% good to bad.

          So in a sentence, your instincts are probably right.

    • rose
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      And simpler, flatter tax.

    • NickC
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Mike S, No, lower taxes – whilst necessary – are not the prime requirement. One of the main reasons England had the industrial revolution first was the stability of our legal system. Whimsical and arbitrary decisions by the government were rare.

      That enabled people to develop science, technology, and industry safe in the knowledge that their endeavours would not be trashed at a moments notice. Unlike today where Boris can trash the entire car, transport and energy industries by a snap of his fingers.

  2. Roy Grainger
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Many past governments have been damaged by rows between the PM and Chancellor, Blair/Brown, May/Hammond, Thatcher/Howe, Major/Lamont – given this it is perfectly sensible to form a joint team reporting directly to the PM for the ultimate decision. Having said this, it is now up to Boris to deliver.

    • rose
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      And the PM is First Lord of the Treasury, after all.

    • NickC
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      Roy G, Why do Ministers have SpAds at all? Aren’t SpAds doing what the civil service is supposed to do? The only answer I can think of is that politicians do not trust the civil service to be a source of sound and impartial advice. So why should we?

      • Fred H
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

        The Civil Service should not advise on political decisions, hence the Spads.

        • NickC
          Posted February 15, 2020 at 10:31 am | Permalink

          Fred H, No, that’s not true. Senior civil servants advise on political decisions all the time. That’s their job.

          • Fred H
            Posted February 15, 2020 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

            oops – should have said suggest not advise.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Not just “a holiday” from yet more prescriptive regulation! Almost everything that the dreadful Osborne and Hammond put in place need to go. They did huge damage. The restrictions on buy to let and car lending, the taxing of profits that have not even been made (totally unsustainable), the absurdly high stamp duty and extra 3% (that pushes up rents), the attacks on the self employed and private pensions pots, one of the highest inheritance tax regimes in the world, the attacks on the Non Doms that pushes wealth and people overseas.

    The buy to let lending restriction alone has deterred me from doing two sensible developments that I would have done had sensible lending policies been in place destroying jobs and restricting housing supply. Then we have the 40% and 78% personal over draft rates from the big bank (only in their UK branches) drivel by the mad fools at the FCA.

    Boris says in doing deals with the US (over things like food) we will be driven by the science and not mumbo jumbo. Perhaps we could do this on the Carbon Dioxide devil gas agenda too rather then being guided by St Greta and Prince Charles. Also perhaps as the NHS where quack medicine is still paid for (again encouraged by Prince Charles types).

    • Robert mcdonald
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      I hear of these promises that we will be all electric within 30 years as a must response to the Greta’s of the world. Surely a far more practical and achievable goal would be to demand fuel driven engines be no more polluting than electricity (nothing generating power will ever be totally “green”) within, say, 10 years. I trust engineering techies to be innovative and driven enough to achieve that. Investing in that route rather than electric vehicles seems far more realistic.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Permalink


        Politicians idiotically like one solution (electric cars or renewables) just like they like idiotic grand projects like the mad HS2. It is simpler for them to remember! They care not whether it works or not or is economic or rational. They just go with the group think fashion of the time.

      • DavidJ
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        Simply mad that politicians, who should know better, are sacrificing our future and our kids future on the basis of the mad ravings of an indoctrinated teenager. Of course they could also see it as an opportunity to line their pockets.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted February 15, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

          The anti-scientific BBC also still indoctrinating the more gullible people every single day.

    • NickC
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic, There is a very good lecture by Professor Gautam Kalghatgi in the HoL asking whether it is really the end of internal combustion engines and petroleum in transport? His answer is a resounding: NO.

      He points out that with existing batteries an A320 at takeoff would need a battery 19 times the allowable take off weight, and take 11 days to charge. Even with cars the range is dire, and the life of the battery is poor. Moreover CO2 emissions should be assessed over the complete lifecycle – and that shows battery electric cars are either no better, or only marginally better, than petrol cars.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

        Exactly, sensible physicists and engineers know all this perfectly well (just do a few quick back of an envelope calculations) but politicians prefer advice from St Greta and Prince Charles types.

      • anon
        Posted February 15, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink


  4. Andy
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    I am sure Rishi Sunak – a public school educated banker from a billionaire family – is exactly what the normal men and women of this country need.

    Unfortunately for him – and for all of us – he is not running the Treasury. Dominic Cummings is.

    We have an unelected bureaucrat – who is not even a Tory – running the country.

    • SM
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      a) Mr Sunak won a part-scholarship to Winchester, his father was a GP, his mother a pharmacist, so hardly billionaires but definitely the sort of hard-working immigrants that benefit the UK.

      b)He married the daughter of a very successful businessman — well good for him!

      c) Mr Cummings is ‘running the Treasury’ – I think if that were even true, he’d still do a better job than Mr Hammond.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        A monkey with a few darts would make better decisions than Osborne and Hammond did. Dominic Cummings is fine by me, at least he was against HS2, a shame he did not win the battle.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      The people who said they didn’t want that apparently used to miss out the operative word for them: “foreign”. The “unelected” bit doesn’t seem to matter that much to them after all, does it?

      Not that we were by the European Union anyway.

      • NickC
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        Martin, The difference is that Cummings does not write the laws as the EU Commission does. And when a law is written that he or any other civil servant has influenced the responsibility for it, and the responsibility of halting it, modifying it, and passing it, rests solely with the democratically elected members of the HoC, whom we the people have just installed. Unlike the EU in every respect.

        • bill brown
          Posted February 15, 2020 at 3:59 am | Permalink


          I would take a closer look at the functions of the European Parliament and the individual country parliaments wo have to adopt everything before it can be put in motion, before making your judgements

        • Helena
          Posted February 15, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink

          An extraordinary comment, Nick. EU laws are made by the Council – elected politicians – and by the European Parlaiment – also elected politicians. The EU Commission has no lawmaking powers whatsoever, just as the civil service in our country cannot make law. Surely you know that? Or are you one of these Brexiters who hates the EU but doesn’t know the first thing about what it is?

          Reply The Commission is very powerful. It initiates and drafts the legislation which in turn grant Commissioners big powers over us

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted February 15, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

            Yes, the Commission is influential within the very limited remit of the Lisbon Treaty, and the under the oversight of the twenty-seven leaders.

            The Parliament can still block anything that it doesn’t like though – such as TTIP, to its credit.

            Cummings seems to control the PM on the other hand, and be answerable to no one.

          • Robert McDonald
            Posted February 15, 2020 at 9:14 am | Permalink

            Your comparison between the EU Commission and our Civil Service is somewhat apt, both being wasteful bureaucracies. However even our Civil Servants have less direct power to influence Parliament than the Eu C have over the Eu Parliament, who allocates where funds are actually distributed to ? It isn’t the eu parliament in the final say, its the eurocracy. And at least 20 + of the 28 (now 27) are therefore beholden on them …. so who do you think has the real power ?

          • NickC
            Posted February 15, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

            Helena, EU laws come from the Commission. The Commission’s main guide are the treaties, not the Council. No country can prevent or control such laws even though it is in the EU Council, short of leaving the EU. And you can see how easy that is, can’t you?

          • bill brown
            Posted February 15, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

            Sir JR,

            Just like th civil service has power over us it putting forward legislation

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted February 15, 2020 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

            Robert, did you just make up the answers in your school exams too?

          • Edward2
            Posted February 15, 2020 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

            A typically silly reply from you Martin.
            It is plain that by using Treaty law the Presidents and the unelected Commission have all the real power.
            The Council is manned by civil servants.
            The heads of member nation meet a few times a year for a nice chat but do little that is effective.
            The MEPs rarely block anything the Commission presents to them.

            And most EU business is via directives, regulations, rules and changes to the interpretation of existing laws which are passed into UK law without proper scrutiny.

            I think it is tragedy that the original Common Market which, the Left hated, has been hijacked over the decades by a new elite who have little time for democracy.

    • Edward2
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      It is really funny how the left have decided to focus on a new target.
      Dominic is now their pantomime villain.
      To be booed everytime his name is mentioned and blamed for every decision they don’t like.
      Hilarious to watch.

      • Ian Wragg
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        He must be doing something right then.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

        How do we vote him out, then?

        • Edward2
          Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

          At the next election if you don’t like the decisions made by the Conservatives and their PM then you can vote them out.
          Your current bette noir is just an advisor.

    • NickC
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Andy, No, Dominic Cummings is not “running the Treasury”, still less “the country”.

      • bill brown
        Posted February 15, 2020 at 3:57 am | Permalink


        How can you be so sure about that fact?

        • NickC
          Posted February 15, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

          Bill B, Because as a SpAd he is employed whilst he is useful to the elected politicians. And no longer.

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      But Andy, you LOVED unelected bureaucrats running the country when we were in the EU !

  5. Caterpillar
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    ” The PM was right to want common working between the Chancellor’s team and his own”…so much did he want common working that he seems to have not even discussed with the previous Chancellor the need to sack his advisers. This does not signal sharing and teamwork, it seems to signal psychopathy.

    No matter how much I support HS2 and infrastructure, no matter my view of the previous Chancellor, no matter any previous positive thoughts I had about the PM, this is frightening and should not be seen as anything less. Talk the team, but walk over the team.

    • NickC
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Caterpillar, Yes, it is hubris. Again. When will our politicians ever learn that they cannot pick winners?

      • Caterpillar
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

        They will not learn. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is only a change in political system that could possibly change behviour. This wiill never happen.

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    A BBC reporter yesterday suggested that had Tony Blair grabbed (the new Boris’s levels of) control of the treasury he might have taken the UK into the EURO. Was Blair really so daft as to want to do this even after John Major’s appalling and predictable ERM disaster? Even now no apology from the EUphile dope and BBC favourite “expert” Major.

    Politics live had and other BBC favourite on “economist” Paul Krugman on. He was cheering along the HS2 investment. I too am in favour of borrowing to make “sensible” investments. The problem that Krugman does not get is that he does not understand just how appalling politicians and bureaucrats are at choosing and delivering such “investments”.

    HS2 is just tipping money down the drain and probably on balance doing net harm even before the harm done by the extra taxation of £billions. The people and businesses are far better at investing. Government care not what they pay not what is any value they get as we see with HS2 and almost everything they do.

    Reply When I resigned from Major’s government over ruling out membership of the Euro both Major and Blair felt obliged to offer a referendum before entry. Once that promise was secure I knew we had saved the pound, as the public were always far more sensible than the politicians over sterling.

    • rose
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      “A BBC reporter yesterday suggested that had Tony Blair grabbed (the new Boris’s levels of) control of the treasury he might have taken the UK into the EURO. ”

      You could argue back to the BBC man that had that been the case, Rupert Murdoch would have concentrated on dissuading Blair rather than Brown. Murdoch said at the Leveson inquiry that he went in night after night to dissuade Brown.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Certainly the public would be far more sensible that Major or Blair on this issue. I wonder how many of the public would vote now in favour of paying about £4,000 of extra taxes per household to build HS2. I doubt if it would exceed 10%. Or indeed in favour of the Huawei go ahead.

    • margaret howard
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply

      “saved the pound”?

      So you claim to have ‘saved the pound’ despite the fact that it has lost more than a third of its value against the euro since its introduction 20 years ago?

      A perfect example of Orwell’s Doublespeak?

      • Edward2
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

        Goid job we have our own currency Margaret or we would have had real and severe austerity like the Euro has created in places like Cyprus Spain Greece Italy and elsewhere

      • Pominoz
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:42 pm | Permalink


        When the Euro was introduced, there was so little confidence in it that it took an age to reach the expected initial level – which is why you may be able to justify your statistic. Right now, the Euro is almost certainly at least a third overvalued, but the EU Central Bank, instructed by the Brussels Cabal, are hiding the catastrophic flaws.

        The next few years will be very revealing. I back Sterling over the Euro, any day.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted February 15, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

          What did Farage say a decade or so ago? Oh yes.

          “The euro will be dead and buried by Christmas 2012”

          • Edward2
            Posted February 15, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

            I keep trying to find this quote attributed to Farage on line and I cannot find it.
            Is it a myth or can you give me a link to it?

          • NickC
            Posted February 15, 2020 at 10:46 am | Permalink

            Marftin, If the EU had not transgressed its own rules, and if the USA had not bailed out the Euro, it would have been dead and buried in 2012. So say “thank you” to the USA, won’t you?

        • margaret howard
          Posted February 16, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink


          So according to you the whole financial world is blind to the fact that the Central Bank is being instructed to hide its catastrophic flaws but you have sussed it?

          • Pominoz
            Posted February 16, 2020 at 10:00 am | Permalink

            I am not alone.

  7. Everhopeful
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Lower taxes will be great and fewer regs ( if it really happens) exactly what is needed by small businesses. Apparently 4 out of 10 new businesses fail before 5 years have elapsed and some of that must be to do with the cost of ludicrous compliances.
    Now what about this new attack on internet freedom of speech …run by Ofcom with the help of BBC personnel? Can that be true? Basically to ensure that we only get ONE version of the news…that of good old Beeb?

  8. BCL
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    I was encouraged by the statements to the effect that Mr Javid was a Thatcherite. I hope that Mr Sunak is too. I accept that levelling up will require significant increases in expenditure but I’m fearful of increases in tax which will send the entrepreneurs abroad and increase further the disincentive to work hard and save. Goodness knows there’s been enough of that already!

    Reply I don’t think Sajid is a Thatcherite. I have never heard him advocate big tax cuts and more privatisations for example.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Rather the opposite is the case I think.
      Maybe all the talk of tax increase was seen as scaring the horses somewhat?
      But then, someone somewhere will have to pay for the planned infrastructure bonanza which Mr Javid was in favour of.
      Maybe a stealthier way of taxation?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        Back door taxation is often even worse and more expensive that front door taxation. Motorist mugging, for example, (bus lane cameras, parking, box junctions ………) is a hugely inefficient way to tax people.

  9. Sharon Jagger
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    I was reading about Mifid 1 and Midid 11 which are Trojan horses overlaying our financial services regulations and causing great harm because of its being too restricting. This must go as soon as possible.

    I do hope Rishi Sunak has the strength of character to make the necessary changes in the Treasury. It does have a very negative approach and an EU way of thinking.

    I’ve done a bit of reading up on Rishi and feel he looks to be a good positive influence and I wish him good luck in the role.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 15, 2020 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Well we will see very soon. Is he another tax, borrow and piss down the drain socialist like Hammond, Osborne, Brown, Darling or is he a small government conservative what wants to grow the productive sector, encourage investment and grow the tax base instead?

  10. Gord
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    I hope that Chancellor Sunak rescinds Mr Javid’s permission for the ONS to degrade the RPI, the effect of which, if implemented, will be to deprive pensioners who bought index-linked annuities of the increases for which they paid. In a non-government context, that would be called fraud. The market prices of all index-linked gilts fell by about 10% on the news.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      The Tories already did that to civil service pensions.
      Just went back into the legislation and altered their promise. RPI to CPI
      Even to those stranded away from home by being a “mobile grade”.
      But then many people thought that by entering wholeheartedly into a career they were “doing the right thing”.
      They were wrong!

  11. Dave
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    This country, and the whole world, needs a return to sound money not more money printing.

    • glen cullen
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Its appears quite simple…..and guess what; it is….just don’t spend more than you receive

  12. Nig l
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Yes. I only see it as a positive move and I perceive the politics is moving away from the Treasury. No doubt you have ‘helped’ prod this along. Hammond was an anti democratic disaster. Shouldn’t be ennobled.

    I want to read that senior Mandarins from the Treasury blob have been moved on because I do not think that after umpteen years they can just change their entrenched views because something ‘cosmetic’ has happened between No 10 and No 11.

    Once that happens I will truly believe that change will happen.

  13. Newmania
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    The Uk is not and has never been bound by Maastricht rules . If it were it would have been wildly out of line with them for a very long time Borrowing is already scheduled to get over 90% of GDP .The tax take form GDP is already at record highs and as we know , new taxes are urgently being considered . Growth is falling off trend exactly as predicted by the experts
    The reality is there is a shortfall in the public finances. Likely downgrades to productivity forecasts, spending commitments already announced and a change in the accounting treatment of student loans all mean the government will need to raise funds to meet its fiscal rule of balancing day-to-day spending by 2023.
    Taxes are coming with the tax take of GDP already at record highs , more borrowing is required with debt already at the highest levels we have seen since the 60s .This is a disaster and their only concern is to try to shovel it onto the young in yet more debt
    The shameful role of brown noising yes-man goes to Rishi Sunak as this mob of self serving charlatans plot to steal our children`s future to save their own fat behinds

    I had thought it couldn`t get any worse , I was wrong

  14. BJC
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    We simply can’t have an ongoing power struggle sucking energy at the highest levels of government. The Treasury is a support function which is required to adapt in response to the changing economic environment. Mr Johnson’s enforced changes will, hopefully, kickstart its journey to professionalise and perform properly.

    I sincerely hope Mr Javid can resist the temptation of wearing the mantle of the martyr as it would be counter-productive and not very becoming. Sadly, he’ll now have time to reflect on whether it was sensible to sacrifice his own career for the sake of advisers who were always destined to go under Mr Johnson’s plans, whoever was appointed as Chancellor.

    The plodding culture ingrained in the structures of Westminster needs to evolve rapidly, so it supports the fired-up “can do” objectives of government, albeit with The Treasury tempering Mr Johnson’s more enthusiastic excesses. Importantly, a clear, unambiguous message has now been sent to others who have not been willing or able to adapt their working practises; a programme of rationalisation that other large organisations carried out in the 80’s!

  15. George Brooks
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Javid did a good job from last July under very difficult conditions but it was becoming clear that the down beat attitude of the Treasury was taking hold again and the leaks were becoming alarming. He was being sucked down their pessimistic vortex.

    The PM threw him a life belt that he felt he could not take which was a clear indication of the degree of influence that he was under. He’ll come back in another position in time.

    We now have a true ‘high flyer’ as chancellor and a complete opposite to Hammond. This one has had a very successful business career. Hammond just thought he had been successful when in fact he had just been in the right place at the right time in the property market.

    I have always taken note of the saying ”birds of a feather flock together” and this new appointment could be very good news for our armed forces in due course. Both this new chancellor and the head of the Services got to the top of the same school so there is a good chance that they will see eye to eye.

    • NickC
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      George Brooks, I suspect that the “down beat attitude of the Treasury” is due more to the incumbent civil servants than to Sajid Javid, or even his SpAds. In which case the Treasury’s pessimistic view of Brexit won’t go away, it will just be better hidden.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      First job for the new chancellor is to undo almost everything done by Brown, Darling, Osborne and Hammond. Tax borrow and tip down the drain socialists the lot of them.

  16. Kevin
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    “challenge Treasury officials into completing the change from the Maastricht economics”

    In a pre-election Brexit Party video, an interesting argument was raised about the civil service in the context of the Conservative Party’s negotiations with the EU. It was said that the civil service is obliged not to give advice that it would be illegal to act upon under international law. Although this seems like an obvious point unworthy of note, I took the argument to mean, in essence, that if there is any ambiguity in a treaty provision, the civil service are unlikely to recommend UK action under the provision because a court might interpret the article differently from the UK Government. In other words, the Government could try to sell the ambiguous article to the public based on its positive interpretation, but the civil service would be likely to take a more cautious approach based on the negative interpretation. It seems, moreover, that the public would have no visibility of this process.

    The specific provision discussed in the video was Art. 129(6) of the Withdrawal Agreement, which relates to foreign policy (and was, of course, subsequently ratified). I believe, however, that the same argument could also be applied to ongoing negotiations that may directly affect economic policy. It underlines the necessity on the part of the Conservatives to avoid agreeing to any ambiguous terms.

  17. Alan Jutson
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Boris has now made sure he is in control.

    No one else to blame, hope he gets it right, so why am I still concerned.

  18. Fred H
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    I welcome forecasts that have a grain of truth, or am I wishing on a star?
    Should we weep over teams of Spads getting shown the door?
    Currently I would imagine a few in Boris’ ear ought to follow suit.
    Is St.Greta being readied to become Environment Minister?

  19. Matthew
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Hi John,

    Could you enlighten me as to why Lib Dems want to Remain so badly? They always make vague remarks about the urgency of ‘climate change’ or something, and how these questions are a waste of time, and we should just ‘find our place in the world’.

    But, unless you are excessively interested in global power (the most useless thing in the World to a citizen, whose interests, I presume, are mine; in a good economy, decent people & jobs, Conservation of Nature, Protection of those amongst us (such as you & our lovely Royals) who are National Treasures, maintenance of Tradition & remembrance of our History, and not much else), unless so, it strikes me as completely useless to join the bully bloc, if you can switch to a more sensible bloc.

    You know as well as I do that the only way to make the national car (or any car) faster is to set it up for speed, and not to hitch it to the stationary van of the EU.

    I understand Labour is ideological. But why is this so hard for Lib Dems to understand? I know that they are neither Liberal nor particularly Democratic, but one assumes they have a sensible alternate rationale, but I cannot find it.

  20. GilesB
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    The Maastricht rules are a nonsense because they take no notice of interest rates.

    The government needs very long term funding for infrastructure projects.

    Individuals need sound, inflation proof, long-term savings opportunities.

    The pension industry will buy any amount of inflation plus 2% bonds. Surely the Government won’t invest in projects that yield less.

    We don’t need further attacks on the pension industry. We need more incentives for the average worker to make themselves self-sufficient in retirement

  21. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Yes, yes and yes. We need a Conservative party in again and some optimism.

    • Fred H
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      F.U.S. – -do you mean you want successive Conservative Party in government or this one isn’t?

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        This one is not Conservative enough. If it were true Tory with Tory values then yes. Successive too.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      Some small government, low tax, cheap energy can do vision please. Real freedom and choice for the people.

  22. Tory in Cumbria
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    An optimistic global approach so far involves losing the benefit of the EU’s great global free trade deals, and replacing them with diddly squat. Brexit weakens Britain a bit more every day that passes and claptrap like “We need to grasp the future by investing in it” only exposes the total hollowness at the heart of your Brexit.

    • NickC
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      TiC, The UK has just taken up its seat at the WTO, instead of having only 1/28th of the EU’s influence. That is applicable right across the board, globally. The UK has increased our influence due to Brexit.

      Apart from the empire building, the EU is only a customs treaty which gives as little as 1% improvement to UK GDP. So at 10% profit that amounts to £2trn x 0.01 x 0.1 = £2bn annually. That’s less than the net cost of the EU for 3 months. It is Remain which is hollow.

  23. Tad Davison
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    I agree with every word. One government should have one policy, not two factions pulling in different directions. I think this move was long overdue and all credit to Boris for having the guts to make the changes. Now, we might get somewhere. Some nasty restrictive fiscal policies need to be brushed aside, for we presently have a golden opportunity to take advantage. If the EU wants to chain itself to the past, that’s a matter for them. We shouldn’t tie ourselves to their apron. They’re a poor example to follow.

    • Hope
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Tad, a bit premature. The UK has not left vassalage yet! EU still pressing for level playing field in most areas. Like JR, you are presuming we are now free from all EU strictures. Quite the opposite. We are in vassalage as Johnson puts it. Surely you do not believe his spin that Brexit is done to divert attention from him implementing Mayhabs servitude plan? Johnson has form for not keeping his word, lying and pure bluster.

      • Nig l
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        Interesting. I have read views expressed, maybe from the EU that Boris’s pronouncements are contrary to what he actually signed in the WA and Political Declaration, (sub text he is misleading the Uk public or reneging on his promises. Clarification from our host would be welcome.

        • glen cullen
          Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

          You only have to read other ‘social media sites’ to realise that the majority of the public have indeed fell for the spin and believe we are fully out

      • Tad Davison
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

        I’m presuming no such thing, I know where we are, and I’m pretty sure I know where the UK is headed.

        Boris isn’t quite the fool people take him for, and evidence of that came yesterday in the way he effectively got rid of the negative austerity-minded ‘no can do’ Hammond types in the treasury.

        I don’t really mind if Boris wants to kid the EU along to get his way, they’re not his masters and are not worthy. Yet he knows he must satisfy the electorate of the United Kingdom for they definitely ARE his masters and won’t forgive any pathetic compromises as would Mrs. Cave-in, one Theresa May.

        I’ll be first in the queue to condemn him if he dishes up unnecessary compromises. Boris might yet go down in history as one of the greatest British Prime Ministers if he delivers for the people. He likes to be popular, now’s the best chance he’ll ever have!

  24. Bob
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    The fact that the BBC are having a collective fit of the vapours over the Cabinet changes indicates that Boris must have done a good job, now lets hope he tackles the TV Licence Fee issue.

  25. Know-Dice
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Yes, Congratulations to Rishi Sunak comes across as a smart cookie 🙂

    I don’t know what his politics are, hopefully a gentle shift to the right…and small government…

  26. Christine
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Can Rishi Sunak start by halting the roll out of IR35 only a matter of weeks away now?

    My son, who is an IT contractor, joined a protest last Wednesday outside the Houses of Parliament. Tim Farron MP joined them and handed a letter to the Treasury. The House of Lords Finance Bill Sub-Committee announced on 4th February that it had launched an inquiry into the Finance Bill 2019-20, with a specific focus on IR35. Sajid Javid pledged a review of IR35 as part of the Conservative Party manifesto in the run up to the GE. Our good MP, Sir John, has raised this matter several times with the Chancellor and the PM. Is anybody listening? It would appear not.

    There is a lot of discussion about the role of the Treasury now that the PM is establishing closer ties/control of no. 10. Not before time! It sounds like the Treasury is a law unto itself and its focus is always about increasing taxes and bleeding us dry.

    Can the Treasury stop shooting itself in the foot? They are not going to rake in more money from contractors. Companies have stopped hiring and contractors (many of whom are very skilled and cannot be replaced by IT workers from India) are shutting up shop and moving abroad. Urgent action is required NOW.

    Reply I agree and lobbied Chief Secretary Rishi on this very topic the day before his promotion.

    • Christine
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Sir John. The lobbying must and will continue until this matter is resolved.

      • NickC
        Posted February 15, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        JR and Christine, Thank you for lobbying against IR35. It is an arbitrary and unfair taxation system. Note that a contractor will have to pay either Income tax or Corporation tax (for a Ltd co) anyway, so the issue is NICs and the fact that a contractor does not have the same benefits as a direct employee – despite what HMRC claim.

    Posted February 14, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    ‘persuading Treasury officials’. And therein lies the problem. It’s the Tory party and you can’t even see it. Do you believe the Marxist that is John McDonnell would have tried to ‘persuade’ Treasury officials? No, he would have brutally kicked them out of the way in the blink of an eye

    You don’t indulge them by persuading them. It’s the same with the BBC. You sack them on the first day, then cancel their pensions and then demonise them.

    Maybe the spineless Tory party that’s spent the last 30 years giving way to the entire leftist agenda across all issues should learn how to deal with internal opposition from all quarters rather than sneakily and covertly tweaking their policies thinking no one would notice

    Well, understand one simple fact. Johnson is in No.10 for one simple reason, Corbyn. That is troubling

    This is the consequence of decades of Tory appeasement of the EU, Labour and the left

    • Nig l
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      Your surname isn’t Cummings by any chance. Actually I do not think you can just blame the Tory party albeit they have been in power for the most time. We are seeing the ‘yes minister’ elite who think they know better, running rings round the elected representatives, many of whom are in post because of political reasons not necessarily talent and most importantly, for a short term before they are moved on.

      This is the reason so many successful business people brought into help government leave, fed up being enmeshed in bureaucracy, with a glacial pace of change.

      Hence why your namesake is such a breath of fresh air and should be welcomed. You can see how the Establishment is worried and fighting back by the number of briefings against him. The Daily Mail on line seems to have a particular hot line to the ‘blob’

  28. Dan
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    We need complete reform of HMRC and our Tax Code. At 21000 pages and growing it is just too big, too complex and not fit for purpose. We should be looking at the best tax code in the world, which is Hong Kong’s, and only 276 pages long. If Rishi Sunak is the person for the job and willing to do this then I wish him all the best. Perhaps a rule of every new rule in, ten go out? Perhaps even start from a blank sheet of paper and take it from there. The only people who will miss out are tax lawyers and accountants, I can’t say I’ll be particularly sorry about that.

  29. 'None of the above'.
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I was pleasantly surprised at this turn of events. Too many past Governments have been distracted by a tug of war between numbers 10 & 11.

  30. Nessimmersion
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Sir John Cowperthwaite.
    Just try to emulate what he demonstrated works and you will go down as the most successful govt in two centuries.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. It is hardly surprising that it worked as the mechanism is obvious low taxes leave the money with the people who know how best to use, invest and make more of it. Stop politicians and bureaucrats wasting it and tying everyone up in red tape.

    • Richard1
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Excellent suggestion. I hope mr Sunak has read Neil Monnery’s excellent biography of Cowperthwaite.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 15, 2020 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        Indeed Boris, Cummings and indeed everyone should read it. It is obvious how to get richer, you just give people freedom of choice and let them keep, invest and spend more of their own money. They do is so much better than governments do, Let government concentrate on law and order and defence and not much more.

        Let them spend no more that 20% of GDP on this and not nearly 50% as in the UK.

    • Mark B
      Posted February 15, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink


      He is one of my hero’s and the man who, economically, I strongly identify with. If ever this country needed someone to sort this country out, it would be him. And he was a Scot’ !

  31. Bob Dixon
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Sir John

    The Maastritch rules.

    Are you and The Treasury the only ones who know what they are and why we have to follow them.

    According to Corbyn ,SNP,Liberal Party el al, its Conservative cuts.

    I do not read or hear the media ever mentioning The Maastritch rules.

    So the man in the street who does not read your blog is unaware of The Maastritch.

    Do any of our MPs?

    • glen cullen
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      I am sure it was Dawn Butler MP shadow minister for women and equalities that said she gets her facts from the guardian newspaper….you couldn’t make it up

      • Fred H
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        Glen – – as do most MPs I would think.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        I think that is where the BBC often get their from too and their daft lefty staff!

        • Lifelogic
          Posted February 14, 2020 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

          Who funds the Guardian? Surely is should have folded by now?

          • Mark B
            Posted February 15, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

            The License Fee payer.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        Either you are for women or for equality how can you be for both?

  32. BOF
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    ‘We need to grasp the future by investing in it. We need a bigger and more prosperous private sector’.

    Indeed, but do we need vast amounts of taxpayers money unadvisedly invested on things like HS2? Or even on very long bridges over troubled waters to troubled lands?

    To encourage a bigger and more prosperous private sector might I suggest massive deregulation?

  33. BOF
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    I was mightily relieved to see that Mr Javid had resigned.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Me too. Anyone who thinks HS2 is a good investment is economically illiterate and not at all suitable to be Chancellor.

  34. ukretired123
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Rishi Sunak was the most positive politician in the recent GE and I wish him well.
    He needs to tackle IR35 urgently as SJR advised him.
    I hope Andrew Bailey is not continuity Carney otherwise he needs to go too.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      I agree.

      Andrew Bailey was in charge of the FCA that has given UK (only) customers of HSBC 40% overdraft rates from March and 78% already at some other large banks. A Cambridge (Queens) historian it seems – perhaps he is just not very numerate? Is it the right job for him given the above? Does he actually support these absurd rip of rates?

  35. ferdinand
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    The suggestions of a mansion tax and a reduction in pension tax relief contradicted almost everything that had been promoted as the plan for after Brexit. Why Javid didn’t kill these rumours instantly is a mystery. Perhaps it is because the Treasury is stiil riddled with Remainers.

    • rose
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      They need to understand there is many a builder etc in the North earning over £80,000. They seem to think people in the North don’t work and want other people who do work to be overtaxed. A very Westminster view.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted February 15, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

        Indeed they people up north need is the same as everyone else. Good jobs, far less tax and red tape, cheap energy and far smaller government.

  36. agricola
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Treasury officials ( Public Servants) should be made abundantly aware of what the new battle plan is. It should be made clear to them that they are in or out in terms of doing the governments bidding. Those who are wedded to the EU should be told to find other emplyment.

    The tax manual of some 2000 pages should be radically condensed. As with the law it is it is employing too many people working against the wishes and instructions of the people.

    Boris has a gargantuan task of reversing the inbalance of the UK economy so that in terms of opportunity it is open to all geographically. No more Whittington drift to the Southeast. Moving government departments out of London is easy, why not the ministry of Ag and Fish to Penzance or Whitby. Creating the infrastructure that allows enterprise to flourish takes longer. My emphasis would be on rebalancing, rather than destroying what we have on a Green Altar. If government wishes to carry the electorate with it, at the very least that electorate should be persuaded and fully informed.

  37. glen cullen
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    While I agree that changes are need at Treasury, I would propose that more urgent need is required in reducing and simplifying the tax book

  38. oldwulf
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    The finances of my local authority seem to be in a bit of a mess. Services are being cut whilst, at the same time, there are questions about expenditure on what some consider to be non essential items. I hope that my local authority does not encounter the near bankruptcy problem which befell the Tory Northampton Council, a couple of years ago.

    Local councils often complain that they have been starved of funds by central government. Maybe they forget that the origin of central government funds and local government funds are often the same ie taxpayers such as me. If they are short of money, both local authorities and central government of course borrow money which pushes the problem onto future generations.

    I do not know what discussions and negotiations take place between local authorities and central government as to which of them pays for what, nor what guidelines exist for local authorities as to how much and in what way, they are empowered to tax, spend and borrow. Maybe the Treasury has the ultimate power but does not enforce it ?

  39. DennisA
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    The government has a majority. It could scrap the Climate Change Act in a trice. This damaging albatross of legislation is leading us down a short road to major disruption, loss of our remaining industry, increasing energy bills, more blackouts, more environmental damage from wind turbines and solar farms and increasing top down rule of every day life. To make Brexit successful, we need to be free of this false UN agenda.

    Rather than seek to do this, Boris has taken Extinction Rebellion effectively into government, with the “climate assemblies”, where your attitude to climate change gets you, or disbars you from an invite to their meetings. They are being instructed by government scientists in scary scenarios and their “deliberations” will be fed back to government, as they dream up more outlandish schemes to throttle the ecoonomy.

    XR has its origins in the Occupy movement and is anti-capitalist. However, the police have been warned off treating them as a radical group and recent cases demonstrate they are effectively not going to be prosecuted for any disruptive activities they undertake.

    It seems the government needs them to demonstrate “public support” for the draconian measures needed to implement the ongoing march to oblivion via the fallacious “Net Zero Carbon” fairy tale.

    Meanwhile, China produces, in just over 13 days, an equivalent amount of CO2 emissions to that which the UK produces in a whole year and the climate is refusing to respond to still increasing CO2 levels.

    • rose
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Does the court case in which the police were no longer allowed to police this lot in London come under the constitutional reform agenda?

      • rose
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        The sinister and undemocratic Citizens Assembly was a creature of the Traitors’ Parliament, not of the PM’s majority in this one.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink


    • glen cullen
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      fully agree with your comments and assessment

    • Mark B
      Posted February 15, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      XR Are what Lenin would refer to as, “the governments useful idiots !” Much like all these committees, think-tanks and so called, ‘charities’ that mostly get their funding from government.

  40. glen cullen
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    There’s nothing wrong at the treasury nor the government finances, we’re a filthy rich country…we must be

    £106+bn for a white elephant train
    £250+bn for nuclear weapons
    £15+bn for foreign aid
    £39+bn EU trade deal fee
    £20+m for 100 SpAds (un-elected temp civil servants)
    £23+bn for hickly point C power station

    You can only spend this amount of money if you’re filthy rich (forget the current debt £2 trillion and net barrowing £25bn….that just a technicality)

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      £61 million just for Big Ben restoration and many £billions in subsidies for so called “renewables” and costly energy bills too.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

      glen cullen,

      As you indicate the whole of HS2 over 20 years is only 1/3 the annual foreign aid spend.

      • glen cullen
        Posted February 15, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        thats all right then….lets spend even more money

      • glen cullen
        Posted February 15, 2020 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        My sarcasm isn’t directed towards you caterpillar but the government

    Posted February 14, 2020 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    How long do have tolerate a fake Tory party that’s been provoking and indeed deceiving its core base now for decades? The Treasury and the pro-EU political establishment coupled with Labour-left client sub- state still remains beyond reform. And now we have another fake Tory PM pandering and virtue signalling to the left with his tedious rhetoric.

    When will REFORM take place?

    When will the BBC and other leftist political vested interests that now INFECTS our every waking moment be brought to account?

    What is the point of the Tory party if not to confront and to defeat and dismantle the left and Labour? That is the real question that needs to be answered

    I believe your party protects Labour from political harm because it fears Labour being replaced by a true Tory party as per the Brexit Party or some incarnation of it. That would expose the sham of what we see today on the government benches

    • steve
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 7:38 pm | Permalink


      “How long do have tolerate a fake Tory party that’s been provoking and indeed deceiving its core base now for decades?”

      Only until the UK is broken up and England is an Orwellian remnant hemmed in by northern European member states, and we all drive around in crappy little battery powered plastic cars, and our military reduced to rice pudding strength.

      It’s on it’s way mate, not too long now.

  42. Peter van LEEUWEN
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    An easy and relatively cheap investment ought to be: improving your cycling infrastructure and cycling culture, now that e-bikes will allow you to climb the odd hill. The Netherlands already saves some 3% of its GDP by its cycling culture (mainly health benefits) and is still boosting/promoting cycling further in 5 and 10-year plans.

    • rose
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Hear, hear Peter.

      • Edward2
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        Try it in parts of Wales, Scotland, N Ireland and Nothern England and you will understand why after the bicycle became popular the next invention was the motor bike.

        • rose
          Posted February 14, 2020 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

          Those are not the most congested parts of the Kingdom.

          • Edward2
            Posted February 15, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

            It was more about the distances people have to travel to get from A to B in these less populated regions.
            Cycling in London can require just a tenth or twentieth of the distances required to get to and from work elsewhere..

    • Richard1
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Yes but the layout of Dutch cities especially Amsterdam are v well suited to bikes, I’m not sure London is. And of course you do have the advantage of a very flat landscape!

      • Peter van LEEUWEN
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

        @Richard1: These layouts have been changed over a long period, over 4 decades by now. So we see that Amsterdam is quite ahead of Rotterdam, but in another ten years Rotterdam will have caught up. I imagine infra in London will also take a longer period to become bike-friendly and needs to be accompanied by promotion.

    • glen cullen
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      But at what cost apart from appeasing the green lobby and tick a box. There have been miles upon miles of concrete cycle paths laid throughout the UK and they’re just not used…and they’re still building them. Most of the city hire cycle companies have gone bust but are underwritten by councils.

      • Peter van LEEUWEN
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

        @Martyn G: The change of culture and building cycling infrasture happened only gradually since 1973. If the Uk starts in earnest now, all ought to be fine before you reach 120 years of age! 🙂
        In the Netherlands the development of e-bikes have made many people continue cycling in their old age. It is great to watch that.

        Reply The Netherlands is flat and heavily urbanised which make cycles easier to adopt. Outside London we have longer distances to travel and plenty of hills

        • NickC
          Posted February 15, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

          Reply to reply, Thank you, JR – as you say, the UK is completely different from the Netherlands. PvL exhibits the top down “one size fits all” mentality of the EU.

    • Martyn G
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Quite right, Peter. Sadly, however, far too many car drivers here dislike cyclists and can be very antagonistic towards them. Also, in the cities there are far too many cyclists who disobey traffic lights and other traffic rules, adding to the irritation of drivers. Improved cycling infrastructure would no doubt be beneficial but there also needs to be a mindset change in both vehicle drivers and cyclists, unlike in your country where each treats the other with a degree of respect. I have a modern e-bike, like many other oldies in my area and use it in preference to the car for local journeys – say up to 10 miles – and it enables me to climb very steep hills in the Chilterns with little effort – not bad for someone nearer to 80 than 70 years of age……

      • Peter van LEEUWEN
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

        @glen cullen: In the Netherlands, building car infrastructures is much more expensive, and when you build both for cars and bikes at the same time it would be more economical. Also thin k of the cost of building parking for cars! In the place required for one car, you could park 8 bikes.

        • glen cullen
          Posted February 15, 2020 at 10:59 am | Permalink

          30 years ago it wasn’t more economical to build a cycle path the width of a road for 10 miles, it was a direct cost to tax-payers for something never used. And now my council are building yet another 13 mile stretch of cycle path that will never be used. These aren’t built to satisfy the community they are built to satisfy the government policy….a tick box exercise at the cost to tax-payer

    • steve
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 7:33 pm | Permalink


      Cannot agree Peter, sorry.

      We DO invest in cycling infrastructure – like cycle lanes. The problem is most cyclists arrogantly refuse to use them, instead prefer to risk their lives on the main roads. The A4 through Slough is a fine example.

      Unfortunately with many (but to be fair not all) cyclists in this country it’s a fanatical ‘power’ thing by little people who’s lives must be very sad indeed.

      I imagine the attitude of cyclists in Holland is very sensible compared to what we have here.

      • Peter van LEEUWEN
        Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

        @steve: It is a longterm process Steve, also the change in culture. Apparently, among higher educated people in Dutch cities, using a bike to go to work is more of a status symbol now than going by car. (it demonstrates that you can afford living near your work so that you can go by bike). Last year or so, the prime minister used his bike for an appointment with the king.

        • glen cullen
          Posted February 15, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

          A cultural change needs to be organic, naturally evolving and by the consent & will of the people, usually by traditions and seasonal requirements

          What is currently happening is call enforced social engineering at the tax-payers expense

    • Mark B
      Posted February 15, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink


      As a cyclist (+20years) in and and around London and the SE of England may I remind you that there is little to compare too. Our roads, even outside Downing Street has potholes and the number of cyclists has grown, certainly from when I started, exponentially. London cannot be so easily turned into a cycle park as it has numerous small winding roads. We are, even for cyclists now, getting close to gridlock despite the government and local councils, especially in Parliament Square being very cycle friendly.

      • steve
        Posted February 15, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        Mark B

        Mark – but cycle lanes don’t have the potholes that roads do, yet they are mostly empty.

  43. simple soul
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Your inner Redwood seems to think we can be an economic great power again. We need to realize we still have a long way to go, but other countries have transformed themselves in a very few years. Do you think a very high rate of capital investment, around 40% of GNP, may be essential? I could say we must not rely too much on a perhaps accidental period of comparatively low growth in the EU.

    Reply e do need to raise the investment rate, but it needs to be productive

  44. Charles
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    How is it the economics of austerity to have UK government spending already making up 45% of GDP? Is this a conservative government that believes in personal industry and enterprise, or believe bigger government is better?

  45. rose
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Good to see Olympic Filibusterer-for-Brexit Lord True back in Downing St.

  46. Johnny Dubb
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Sir John
    Best title so far this year. Presumably we need notes too.
    Good, optimistic article. Rishi can not help but be better then the last err, 5 at least.

  47. ian terry
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    The only thing in life that is a constant is change and it seems to be coming obvoius by the day that the change to EVs is really only happening because of all the subsidies and freebies thrownatit by the government and manufacturers. That being said the real world has to carry on and with the envy tax being applied to vehicles over £40k plus the new rises in road tax duties which are crippling sales of the more quality marques. The change took cannon take place overnight and these manufacturers are investing million looking for electrifying their range. It does not make sense stopping the critical mass of people who having worked hard lpaid their taxes are now being hit when choosing a new vehicle. Yes I hear all the arguments about buying new but what impact on the Wesr Midlands let alone the country be if Tata threw in the towel and shut and moved JLR out of the UK. The new Chancellor should stop and really think about the fall out of companies not being able to bring in revenue to pay for the electricity even hydrogen conversion. The 1.5 % of CO2 that these new generation diesel and petrol engines give out will have little effect on the world figures over the next ten years. Stop preventing the automobile industry from having a semi half level playing field. There is not enough raw earth materials for the whole world to bgo all electric. Let’s have a bit of common sense and trust our engineers to come up with the answer. Let them have some chance of getting money in by not hammering the tax payers.thousands of people want to change their vehicles for new models but because of all the hype they are holding back. Take the envy taxes of of newBritish vehicles and give then6half chance to suceed

    • steve
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      ian terry

      I say this again; we’re all being had over.

      If we weren’t, the government would a) not be entertaining this green crap, b) be following Japan’s lead and converting to hydrogen.

      I don’t think Boris understands what he’s messing with if he thinks he can take people’s cars off the road.

      He’d be wise to reverse his anti motorist policies, or else.

    • glen cullen
      Posted February 14, 2020 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      wise words indeed, only the neo green and the rich where buying them, I say where because the sales of EVs are declining…..so why are the government pushing this policy when even the CO2 arguement doesn’t stack up

  48. BillM
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Hooray! At last, full-blown Brexiteers in the 4 most senior positions in Government.

  49. steve
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Sorry JR, but I do not trust this Rishi Shunak fellow.

    However I would not doubt your word that he is able and hard working.

    The problem I have is gut instinct.

    If I imagine myself in a similar situation, I would not be happy with the way my colleague was treated, and would certainly not take his crown. But then I’m no politician, so what seems abhorrent to me might be perfectly normal in political circles.

    I see what happened to S. Javid as bad form on Boris’ part. Where I come from we don’t do things that way. I think Boris will have lost votes because of this.

    Remember that Michael Gove can never be PM because of his Machiavellian treatment of Boris. People don’t like it.

    I hope I am wrong but to me it looks like service to the nation has been compromised yet again for the sake of careers.

    I may not have agreed with all of what Mr Javid stood for, but I don’t think he deserved that kind of treatment. I wish him and his family well.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted February 15, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Javid examined the numbers on HS2 and decided it was good to continue chucking £billions of other people’s down the drain. This alone shows he is economically illiterate and is more than sufficient reason for him to go. Plus we had the absurd leaks of plans for mansion taxes, further pension raids and attacks on entrepreneur’s relief and the self employed. Good riddance. Let us hope then new chap is rather better despite his PPE Oxon degree.

      • Mark B
        Posted February 15, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        So now I expect that now Javid is out of the way it will be cancelled ?

        Doubt it !


  50. Derek Henry
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    He is a neoliberal globalist.

    All I can say is good luck. You are going to need it.

    It will be even more gold standard, fixed exchange rate nonsense John.

  51. Rhoddas
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Well said SJR, if the EU won’t agree a sympatico FTA akin to the EU Canada one (Political declaration says it is our joint aim) then the £39bn can be spent in UK. Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

    For the next Brexit proper budget, my take

    Repeal IR35 & extra dividend tax – encourage contractors/entrepreneurs to create more wealth.
    Increase VAT start levels to £100k, share savings on VAT we currently send to EU with us.

    Simplify Stamp Duty (reduce % and hence increase activity)
    Simplify IHT (increase all thresholds to £1m – per the original Tory promise and add a 45% rate for more than say £4m to compensate)

    Boost Infrastructure – plenty said by many already; A5/A483 expressway 25 years overdue is my local beef.

    Freeports and EZ Enterprise Zones, plenty said already too. Be interested to see how Scotland might benefit, despite SNP being categoric about indyref2 (out of how many).

    Remember Maggie exempted tax on private healthcare – I seem to recall this helped reduce NHS treatments significantly. Maybe worth a re-look, incl. charging for missed appointments and similar.

    Energy – encourage innovation in electric energy propulsions – batteries and fuel cells and their recycling. Green tech I know is getting bad press on this site, but I think it’s tremendous. Let’s take the lead, Mr Dyson and Mr Ratcliffe please await supportive calls.
    National Grid might need a small tweak, a decent 10 year plan wouldn’t go amiss!

    Posted February 14, 2020 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    Mr Justice Julian Knowles ruling on freedom of speech:

    “The effect of the police turning up at [the Claimant’s] place of work because of his political opinions must not be underestimated. To do so would be to undervalue a cardinal democratic freedom. In this country we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or a Stasi. We have never lived in an Orwellian society.”

    This is what the Tory party in concert with other client State political players like Labour and their client state have done to the UK and our most ancient freedoms…

    We need a bill of rights protecting our most fundamental freedoms without which we are NOTHING

    • glen cullen
      Posted February 15, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      ’Thought’’ police in Great Britain

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted February 15, 2020 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      You have it. It is called the Human Rights Act.

      Are you familiar with all fourteen?

      Which would you be willing to lose?

      • Fred H
        Posted February 15, 2020 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

        United Nations
        Universal Declaration of Human Rights

        16. Marriage and Family. Every grown-up has the right to marry and have a family if they want to. Men and women have the same rights when they are married, and when they are separated.

        17. The Right to Your Own Things. Everyone has the right to own things or share them. Nobody should take our things from us without a good reason.

        18. Freedom of Thought. We all have the right to believe in what we want to believe, to have a religion, or to change it if we want.

        19. Freedom of Expression. We all have the right to make up our own minds, to think what we like, to say what we think, and to share our ideas with other people.

        20. The Right to Public Assembly. We all have the right to meet our friends and to work together in peace to defend our rights. Nobody can make us join a group if we don’t want to.

        21. The Right to Democracy. We all have the right to take part in the government of our country. Every grown-up should be allowed to choose their own leaders.

        22. Social Security. We all have the right to affordable housing, medicine, education, and childcare, enough money to live on and medical help if we are ill or old.

        23. Workers’ Rights. Every grown-up has the right to do a job, to a fair wage for their work, and to join a trade union.

        24. The Right to Play. We all have the right to rest from work and to relax.

        25. Food and Shelter for All. We all have the right to a good life. Mothers and children, people who are old, unemployed or disabled, and all people have the right to be cared for.

        26. The Right to Education. Education is a right. Primary school should be free. We should learn about the United Nations and how to get on with others. Our parents can choose what we learn.

        27. Copyright. Copyright is a special law that protects one’s own artistic creations and writings; others cannot make copies without permission. We all have the right to our own way of life and to enjoy the good things that art, science and learning bring.

        28. A Fair and Free World. There must be proper order so we can all enjoy rights and freedoms in our own country and all over the world.

        29. Responsibility. We have a duty to other people, and we should protect their rights and freedoms.

        30. No One Can Take Away Your Human Rights.

        Coming from the UN– that lot has nowhere been achieved.

  53. mark leigh
    Posted February 15, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink


    Wealth tax – bad. Pensions raid – bad.

    Joined up thinking between No.10 and No.11 – Good.

    Just need Boris to see the light and stop this Global Warming nonsense.

    And Gove too…

  54. anon
    Posted February 15, 2020 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    3GW of offshore wind say approx £7billion.
    With conservative average of 30% output = 1GW.

    Compare that to HS2 (110 billion) or the cost of 1 nuclear new build at Hinkley (25 billion) or gas or coal builds. EU 39 billion bribe. 15 billion annual fee for “free trade” & premium vasselage.

    For 350 billion, we could cover peak electricity demand at 50 GW (150GW at 30%).

    Why not aim for long term surplus renewable capacity and curtail where excess supply cannot be met by demand or storage. To me supply really would create demand.

    Create the infrastructure & storage grid to match. Old powerstation sites or offshore islands via a national sea cable interconnector system.

    Electrons travel faster, easier, cheaper than trains or lorries and make building homes simpler.

    Between then and now allow use the current fleet or gas in power stations, until it wears out, but build out wind/ renewables to meet 50GW peak and ensure power is cheap at point of modest use.

    • Mark
      Posted February 15, 2020 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

      We are already curtailing significant amounts of wind generation – over 750MW as an average for February so far. That will only get much worse as wind capacity increases, making periods of excess production more frequent, and increasing the effective cost of useful wind energy, since we will be paying for curtailment.

      However, it does very little towards covering days when winds are slight. Storage to bridge from one to the other is unaffordably expensive, so you need backup generators instead. The problems are not really solved by interconnectors – which are proving unreliable in more hostile waters – because weather systems are typically quite large, so much of Europe gets the same weather at the same time.

      We would do much better not to invest in energy systems several times over, so that we had a competitive cost of energy to fuel our economy.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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