One cheer for the OBR

With spectacular bad timing the OBR last autumn lowered their forecast for growth in the UK economy based on turning very negative about productivity growth. They did so just in time to see productivity suddenly spurt forward, and for the growth rate to come in 13% higher for 2017 than their forecast. That takes some doing, making that kind of error for the year in question when the forecast went out in the penultimate month of the year!

This time the OBR have second thoughts on 2018, and have edged their growth rate forecast up by 7% to 1.5%. I expect they will need to revisit this as the year progresses. I can only give one cheer for the OBR being a little less pessimistic. The upward revision to 2017 came about because the actual figures showed they had got the forecast wrong again. I remember being criticised for complaining that official forecasts since the Brexit vote rushed to be wrong by being too pessimistic, but so it has proved. These latest errors are not on the scale of the forecast winter recession in 2016-17 which the Treasury had to write out of its script when growth accelerated in the second half of 2016.

The OBR says they now do not know whether “growth slowed down, speeded up or remained stable between 2016 and 2017”, so it is difficult to see how they can ascribe anything to the Brexit vote! Their forecast error in 2017 comprised underestimating private consumption, private investment and government spending, but also overestimating the favourable impact of overseas trade. There was no decline in private investment in the way many establishment forecasts had expected. They have had to admit that a weaker sterling did not depress imports as forecast. Nor was the price effect as strong as some thought.

The OBR reminds us in their numbers just how much extra money the UK would have to send to the EU after we have left if a deal is concluded. It will need to be a very good deal in every other respect if it is to be worth £37bn. There’s a lot of good we could do at home with that sum, and spending it at home instead of sending it to the continent would give a timely boost to our national output and income. No deal is definitely better than a bad deal!

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  1. Mark B
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    The OBR was created by George Osborne and the Conservative Party. Another, ‘Jobs for the boys and girls’ QUANGO !

    “2017 saw the highest yearly total of new orders since 2008, but the market’s cautious start to 2018 shows that those two most essential of commodities for developers – confidence and certainty – are now in increasingly short supply.

    “And as long as the Brexit melodrama continues, the pattern of intermittent growth and slowdown is likely to hamper the industry’s progress.”

    Melodrama : a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions.

    And that is exactly what it is – a Melodrama. But one that is causing real harm. If people were to unite both behind BREXIT and the UK they can avoid harming our country. All you here is bad news if the UK leaves the EU. But you never hear Remaniners trumpet the EU and the benefits. That’s because there are none ! They lost the vote and the argument because, as the Foreign Secretary observed in his Valentines Day speech, they did not feel they had to because they too thought the argument is over.

    Leavers only talk if a bright future outside the EU and point to the rip-off deal we have in it. It is curious that those who support Remain and actively try to do harm to our country cannot speak up in support for the EU. Well to those here on this blog, “Come on, let’s hear you speak in support of the EU and tell us that which the EU can do that no other independent sovereign nation can ?” The silence will be deafening 😉

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      You have an interesting point: pro-EU voices are rare, at least on this forum. I hope that my point of view about EU and UK is not regarded as “pro EU”. The EU is a very effective way of cooperation between small countries (yes, even Germany is a small country) in order to achieve internal scale, less friction, factor mobility across borders and external bargaining power. For members who have no emotions about past glory (and even the French who still do, sometimes) this arrangement is useful.

      Given that the UK has not been able to convince its electorate that those utilitarian virtues have value and that they are worth paying a certain price (loss of autonomy, monetary costs, etc) it cannot be a constructive member. That is why I am a European pro EU person, with friends and relatives in the UK and sorry to say that brexit was and is unavoidable, but not economically optimal.

      Maybe there are many more people who feel the same. It is not a “remain” position (because the conclusion is “leave”. But it does not inspire joy. Imo the Commission has come around to that position too and remarks by “eurocrats” should be seen in this light.

      • Mark B
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

        My question was simple :

        . . . . tell us that which the EU can do that no other independent sovereign nation can ?”

        You have tried but failed to answer my question.

        Here’s the little Faroe Islands taking the EU to the WTO back in 2013.

        The Government of the Faroes has consequently notified the EU that it has today brought the dispute to an international arbitral tribunal, requesting that the EU be declared in breach of its obligations under UNCLOS and ordered to refrain from the threat or adoption of coercive economic measures on the Faroe Islands.

        President Trump was not the first to stand up to the bullying EU.

        • Rien Huizer
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink

          “tell us what the EU can do that no other independent sovereign nation can”

          First let me try to understand the question. I am not sure I understend the term”independent sovereign nation” but I assume you refer to a (sovereign) State. Independent is not a term used for sovereign states because at best it would be tautological, at worst it would (combined with the term “nation”, a very contentious concept better reserved for sports teams from various subdivisions of the UK (or even the British Islands) in some sports) identify the user as a nationalist.

          Anyway “another..nation” indicates that you look only at the EU as compared to a state. But the EU is not a state, it is a collaborative project of many states, with a common infrastructure, common rules etc, but in essence an organisation that a state joins and leaves, voluntarily. Subdivisions leaving states (for instance, Scotland) depend on the generosity of the parent state for their “independence”. EU members have art 50.

          If you are interested in what the EU (I assume you mean EU membership) can do for a state, look at the many projects, funded cooperatively that improve infrastructure, even in the UK. Look at the freedom to live in other member states, maybe not your preferred privilege, but a privilege no less. Then there is of course the enormous internal market that functions (ideally, not complete), AS IF one would be operating in a single country. I could go on but stating the obvious will not satisfy certain people. As said, the British do not like it so why should they enjoy those privileges?

          • Mark B
            Posted March 16, 2018 at 4:43 am | Permalink

            Waffle !

            But the EU is not a state . . .

            So why the flag ? The anthem ? The Parliament ? The Commission ? The ECJ ?

            Norway is not part of the EU, but contributes to its projects. The USA is not part of Europe but collaborates and in the case of NATO, subsidises European and EU countries.

            To answer my own question. Nothing ! There is nothing that the EU can do for the UK that it cannot do on its own. Like The Faroe Islands linked above which you carefully ignored as an example of what I meant.

            Pathetic !

      • getahead
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        The EU has been ripping Britain off for the last 40 years. Brexit is indeed “economically optimal.”

      • NickC
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:57 am | Permalink

        Rien, The EU is not about “cooperation”, it’s about top-down centralised control. Otherwise there would be no Declaration 17.

        And as for you not being “Remain”, pull the other one. If you spout Remain propaganda – and project fear is characteristic – then expect to be regarded as Remain.

    • David Jones
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Excellent point. I’ve also been asking same question. What is so wonderfully positive about the EU ? All we hear is doom & gloom if we’re not part of it. No one is able to answer for obvious reasons

      • L Jones
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:52 am | Permalink

        So glad to hear you saying this. There never seems to be a cogent argument from remainders concerning the EU’s enormous benefits (in their minds) and why we should stick with it. It is a sad thing to be so fearful of cutting the apron strings, for no real reason.

      • Hope
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

        May capitulated again or lied again to the public about immigration. Now we read free movement continues until 2021-Why? We were told categorically that it ends in March 2019 when we leave. So it is now clear she has lied and that the extension puts the UK as a vessel state for two years for her beloved EU. Get her out. Is May capable of keeping her word on anything?

        What has the EU compromised on of given away- nothing. may is an utter disgrace and embarrassment to our country. How much child care for EU citizens already and innate yet born has she agree to when she will not provide social adult care for our citizens.

      • Hope
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        OBR also claimed the books will not be balanced book by 2025! Tory govt promised to balance the books by 2015, now kicked into touch despite the highest amount of tax increases than the previous Labour govt!

        JR, May claimed on many occasions to take back control of our laws, money and borders. She has given regulatory alignment forever that means accepting EU laws without a voice, given away £100 billion just to be able to talk about trade and promised continued contributions and now freedom of movement continues, meaning borders are not under our control as ECJ will also oversea EU citizens belong leaving. Why has she lied, gone against the public mandate and what are you and the other leavers going to do about it?

        Has she used colluded with the Tory traitors to side with Labour and EU so the public vote is defeated?

    • Hope
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Cameron promised a bonfire of quangos but increased the number and cost to the taxpayer. I received my council tax bill which has risen by 5.6 percent plus add on for flood defence and social adult care. So We pay for the Environment Agency £1.5 billion and now have to pay twice for flood defence- why? Get rid of the quango. Tory Govt promised to cap social adult care and the amount taken from selling your house to provide care, they lied twice. Now the taxpayer has to pay for social adult care twice in the council tax bill and still sell their home! The narrative about living longer is a scam it is because there are far more older because of the mass immigration, ask Rudd she sent a letter to all EU families to come here there was no age limit or thought how much it would cost us in health care or social adult care. Brought to you by the overtaxing Tory govt. The govt ministers still insult their voters and pass blame for their decisions on to other people.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      The OBR was created by George Osborne as Chancellor in the Conservative-led coalition government because the Treasury had proved to be a catastrophically unreliable source of information, analysis and advice under the previous Labour Chancellors Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling.

      Or as it is put in rather more restrained terms in this House of Commons Library Research Briefing from last December:

      “The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) was established within days of the Coalition Government coming to power in May 2010 with the aim of improving the credibility of fiscal policy.”

      Because the Labour government had got itself into the horrific position where it was having to borrow a quarter of all the money it was spending, and to be sure of funding that massive budget deficit it had been forced to arrange for the Bank of England to act as a kind of captive investor in UK government bonds, using newly created money which now stands at £425 billion:

      The odd thing is that by April 2016 the same George Osborne as Tory Chancellor had regained sufficient confidence in the forecasting ability of the Treasury that he was prepared to get fully behind their predictions of unmitigated disaster if we left the EU, in fact even if we as much as voted to leave the EU, and now as the editor of the London Evening Standard he still unhesitantly disseminates whatever tripe the Treasury may turn out in their continuing efforts to disrupt Brexit.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        Yep! A really trustworthy bloke that Osborne. Absolutely no ulterior motives and as clean as a whistle. The United Kingdom cannot possibly do without such erudite and even-handed patriotic men who would never, ever stoop to telling porkies or distorting the facts to influence the minds of the more gullible members of society.


        • Hope
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:56 am | Permalink

          The same bloke who promised a 80 percent cuts against 20 percent tax rises! it turned out about 98 percent tax rises and against minimal cuts which Labour have used to nail Tories without any response. This Govt is utterly clueless and unable or unwilling to set up a good communication dept.

          At the last election three terrorist attacks happened and ordinary people commented on TV you could not cut police by 20,000 and have no effect. Minds are made up she is not to be believed.

          It was written here the other day that a blogger was beginning to loathe this govt. She is not alone. There will be lots of abstentions from voting Tory and Labour will slide in.

          May cannot be trusted, she still does not understand how important that is. To say I want to be straight with people when she has been anything but and caught out makes her look stupid and untrustworthy. Macron today says he wants proof of Russian involvement before taking any action! Solidarity, my foot. Germans will want the gas from Russia make no bones about it.

          • Mitchel
            Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

            Macron wants a slice of the Arctic pie-it’s vast resources now effectively a Russian fiefdom.He,through Total, is the only western investor in the new Yamal LNG plant and the scope for more business is astronomic.Guess who won’t be on the list.

      • acorn
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        Denis, I am going to have one last go at explaining this to you. “… where it was having to borrow a quarter of all the money it was spending”. It never happened, it was then, and still is, a neo-liberal myth for Household consumption! (It’s called the Noble Lie in the trade, think Plato’s Republic.)

        The government does not borrow its own FIAT currency, it ISSUES the FIAT currency to non-government sector USERS of its FIAT currency.

        The government has a voluntary rule called “full funding”. This means it issues debt instruments, Gilts etc., to match its spending into the Household economy (not the Banking economy). There is no operational reason to have to do this, it is purely for conning the public into thinking the government’s budget, is the same as a Household budget.

        Have a look at sheet PSA1 in the following, Row 16. Look at “net borrowing” in Col 3 and Col 10 (without and with the PS Banks). Then tell me how Col 11 “net debt”, went from £662.4 billion in 2007, to £2,198.8 billion in 2008? (142.6 % of GDP).

        Osborne – Hammond, Neo-liberal austerity AND Brexit, is a recipe for UK economic suicide.

        • The Banker
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:27 pm | Permalink


          Maybe you’d let us know if the government pay interest on the money they dont borrow. Maybe you’d also let us know if foreign organisations can buy UK government bonds and Gilts

          Explain why when yields reach about 7 per cent, there’s a rule of thumb that they become unsustainable, because at that point governments have to pay so much interest to service their debts that they will never be able to pay everything back.

          Oh and I think you’ll find the operational reason to do this is in fact Article 101 of the Maastricht Treaty (of all things) forbids direct central bank financing of deficits.

          • acorn
            Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:51 am | Permalink

            About 27% of UK Treasury debt is owned by overseas residents. BoE about 23%; Banks and Insurance Funds own about 45% and Households about 5%. The government pays interest on its “risk free” savings accounts like Gilts; Treasuries and NS&I savings accounts. None of which fund Treasury spending, but they do take part in “reserves” control.

            There is no 7 per cent, rule of thumb, it is irrelevant in a fiat currency system. The BoE has unlimited power to control Sterling interest rates. And, it will never run out of its own currency (it is owned by the currency issuer) to redeem Gilts or pay interest. It is a form of fiscal stimulus for the finance industry.

            Articles 101; 102; 103 of Maastricht (as then was), went out the window when Mario Draghi took over the ECB. Remember the ECB is both the Euro Central Bank; and, the Euro Treasury (currency issuer) all in one. The UK Treasury and the BoE together, are one and the same. I think Canada’s Central Bank still appears to directly finances its government debt, it doesn’t matter in reality; it is just neo-liberal smoke and mirrors to fool the 99%.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:40 am | Permalink

            The government does have to pay interest on that money which acorn thinks it never borrows, and of course it also has to repay the capital sums which acorn thinks it has never borrowed, and as it happens this week the Bank of England is in the process of reinvesting payments it received from the Treasury with respect to some of its gilts holdings which have matured:


            “As set out in the Minutes of the MPC’s meeting ending 7 February 2018, the MPC has agreed to make £18.3bn of gilt purchases, financed by central bank reserves, to reinvest the cash flows associated with the maturity on 7 March 2018 of a gilt owned by the Asset Purchase Facility (APF).”

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

            From April 2013:


            “If the Treasury had borrowed £375 billion directly from the Bank of England, for example through the Bank either extending an overdraft to the Treasury or buying UK government bonds, gilts, directly from the Treasury, then that would have been a lot clearer and by now the public might have gained a better understanding of what was being done and why.

            But not only would that be inconveniently transparent, first for the Labour government and now for the coalition government, it would also be illegal under the EU treaties.

            Although the UK has a treaty “opt-out” from ever having to join the euro, that protocol does not exempt the UK from Article 123 TFEU which states:

            “Overdraft facilities or any other type of credit facility with the European Central Bank or with the central banks of the Member States (hereinafter referred to as “national central banks”) in favour of Union institutions, bodies, offices or agencies, central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of Member States shall be prohibited, as shall the purchase directly from them by the European Central Bank or national central banks of debt instruments.””

        • Edward2
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

          Of course the UK can create it’s own debt.
          But it is still debt.
          Other nations and their financial institutions watch what we do and decide if we are being prudent.
          If they feel we are not the market devalues our currency versus theirs and can be increasingly reluctant to lend to us.

          • Rien Huizer
            Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

            Apart from the use of “nation” (why not “country”) you hit the nail on the head. Countries behaving imrudently get a message from the markets: be rational or expect that investors will not want to hold your debt, currency etc unless they are paid for the additional risk. This is not a right or left issue: it was fundamental to 1920s discussions about “socialism in one country” and despite examples like Zimbabwe and Venezuela, people seem to believe that “independence” exists in the modern world. Only the US comes close and maybe Trump will explore the limits of the US’ economic independence.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 16, 2018 at 8:19 am | Permalink

            Strawman to link financial restraint to a nation’s independence. Rien.
            When you are ruled by a supra national political body which has supremacy over your courts and makes laws you must obey then you are not independent.
            Non EU nations are.

        • NickC
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

          Acorn, You clearly don’t understand what a fiat currency is. That the UK government issues fiat money does not prevent it borrowing if it chooses not to issue sufficient fiat money for its intended spending program.

          That the UK government has borrowed is indisputable. Therefore we can conclude that the UK government has, in fact, borrowed its own currency (converted from foreign currencies, in the case of foreign lenders).

          If the UK government failed to honour its debt obligations, it would rapidly become unable to borrow. The only alternatives are: spending reduction; fiscal measures; or expanding the money supply (“printing”, or QE). We all know what happens in practice to countries which “issue fiat currency” simply to match their profligacy.

          Therefore those borrowings are not a con to fool the public, but real and essential. In fact what goes out must come in, in order to balance the books. Don’t believe John McDonnell’s magic money tree.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

          I don’t suppose it will be the last time, acorn … if you look at the link I provided, you will see:

          “Quantitative easing does not involve literally printing more money. Instead, we create new money digitally.”

          That “we” being the Bank of England, NOT the UK government.

          “Quantitative easing is when a central bank like the Bank of England creates new money electronically to make large purchases of assets. We make these purchases from the private sector, for example from pension funds, high-street banks and non-financial firms. Most of these assets are government bonds (also known as gilts). The market for government bonds is large, so we can buy large quantities of them fairly quickly.”

          Again, it’s “a central bank like the Bank of England” which “creates new money “, NOT the UK government or its Treasury, and the “we” using that new money to buy UK government bonds is the Bank, not the UK government.

          However the main point is that the Treasury’s forecasts were so bad that George Osborne wanted another source of expert analysis and advice, but now he reckons that the Treasury can forecast disaster over future decades if we leave the EU.

    • NickC
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      Mark B, The government delayed invoking Art50 by 9 months, is taking the full two years (which was the maximum) for the Art50 process, and is now adding on further indeterminate delays of two years or more.

      The excessive delays make even our leaving uncertain. Nobody gains by it. It is bad for business, most of which does not even export to the EU. It is bad for morale. It increases costs. The only way to ensure certainty is to leave as quickly as possible.

      • Mark B
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:58 pm | Permalink


      • hans chr iversen
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        Nick C

        Our biggest export markets are Europe and if you were still in business and not retired you would not be in such a

        • Edward2
          Posted March 16, 2018 at 8:25 am | Permalink

          Actually hans, about 80% of the UK national income is created internally.
          The remaining 20% is created by international trade.
          Of that 20% about 40% is trade with Europe.

          The majority of international trade income is with the rest of the world.

    • acorn
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      What more do you need to know Mark B? Liam Fox has today answered your question:

      “The U.K. will rely on the European Union to make the case for an exemption from Donald Trump’s steel tariffs, even though the country is due to leave the bloc in a year’s time. Trade Secretary Liam Fox said that while Britain remains in the EU it will abide by the club’s rules, which state that the European Commission conducts trade negotiations on behalf of its members.”

      Hypocrites “R” Us in the Alt-Right Conservative Party “Leave” caucus.

      • mancunius
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

        Please explain exactly what is hypocritical about observing treaties? We cannot diverge from them until we leave.
        In the meantime we are paying a hefty fee for our membership. The EU would would be in breach of its treaties if it failed to negotiate on our behalf as well as the other member states.

  2. Peter
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    “The OBR reminds us in their numbers just how much extra money the UK would have to send to the EU after we have left if a deal is concluded. It will need to be a very good deal in every other respect if it is to be worth £37bn. ”

    Unfortunately it looks like a deal – of some sort- will be concluded. You have previously Brexit-minded people like Rees-Mogg now talking about compromise.

    • BOF
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Yes it looks like that very bad deal, often mentioned by Mrs May, will be shunted through Parliament following weak and grovelling negotiating strategy. Also due to the PM and her remain heavy cabinet not really wanting to leave the EU.

      Brexit MP’s will have to get a great deal tougher if we are ever to get completely free of the crumbling EU.

      Expect us paying

      • BOF
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        Expect us paying at least double the £37B.

        • Tad Davison
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

          I wish politicians were subjected to some kind of covenant where their lives and/or property were forfeit should they deliberately deceive the public.

          You’ve only got to listen to some of them to know they’re being less than sincere. To me, that is an unforgivable crime and totally unbecoming of anyone who holds public office.


    • Hope
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      It is not £37 billion. JR knows that Davis said in parliament to Priti Patel that number was after deducting UK assets in the EU. It was sneaked out by question and answer. Therefore the sum is £100 billion to make it sound a lot smaller to the public. JR, Stop spinning false numbers. The truth please.

      • NickC
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        Hope, Indeed, the figures are indefensible. As soon as Labour wakes up about this outrage, the government will be on the ropes.

  3. Bob Dixon
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    What use is the OBR? P45 time?

    • acorn
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      There are two tables and one chart that are any use at the macro level. The other 240 pages of the EFO you can forget. At the cash level, government spending will rise by 2.6% a year,taxes by 3.1% a year. Chart 3.29 is interesting but it doesn’t split the corporate sector into financial and non financial.

      By 2024 all sectors except the government, will be running deficits to pay for, slightly reduced, imports from the rest of the world.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      What has the “Office of Tax Simplification” actually achieved in 8 years and how much has that cost too?

      • sm
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:21 am | Permalink

        Now that is an extremely interesting question, LL. It would indeed be interesting to know what tax simplifications have actually been incorporated into the system, following the OTS’s reviews and recommendations.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

          Certainly plenty of further tax complications that have been put into law.

        • Tad Davison
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          Maybe it’s something to do with the psyche of the authors of the tax law ‘handbook’. Unless they produce something as long and complicated as War and Peace, they don’t feel valued and don’t deserve their handsome remuneration and pension.

          Personally, I’m all for making things simple, but that probably disqualifies me for ever holding such an exalted position.


    • Adam
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      We should offer the OBR a Payment by Results contract. If they decline, they reveal their uselessness. If they accept & fail, they starve; yet not at our expense.

      • Surely Holmes
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

        The way of testing and judging the OBR is to formulate a scale of just what they could likely say and then close your eyes and stick a pin at random on the statistics. In the result, if your pinning wins, that is, closer to the mark then give OBR personnel a very good reference when they apply to work in a foreign bank.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 3:05 pm | Permalink


        Now there’s a thought to conjure with! Just think if all government departments were paid by results, we would save millions! We might even get a refund!


    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      Quite, in the real world of business forecasts are essential because real money and jobs are at stake. In Government, there are magic money trees, contrary to some opinions, and nobody really seems to get made redundant or sacked it seems increasingly pointless to have all these economists pontificating about the odd 0.1% .

      I read Hammond is re-igniting this world shattering dilemma of copper coins, as did Osborne, just get rid of them.

  4. Lifelogic.
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Indeed if we are paying circa £1400 per household for the EU “deal” it had better be worth buying. It does not look like it will be to me.

    May has surely been very silly indeed (once again) with her midnight Putin threats. What did she expect from him? She does not even have the full evidence yet. She is playing it very badly indeed as usual. What will she do now, she really is a very silly?

    Best stop closing the coal powered generators in case he cuts our gas off at least.

    Meanwhile Hammond says:- “We choose to champion those who create the jobs and the wealth on which our prosperity and our public services both depend, not to demonise them.”

    Well if May and Hammond do that it will be a complete U turn for them both. Demonising, nagging and over taxing landlords, developers, employers and tying up businesses, pensions and banks in damaging and pointless red tape has been their main agenda so far.

    Doubtless he was just telling lies but we shall see. Perhaps it will actually be a U turn but I doubt it. These two just cannot control their nagging, bossing, taxing, regulating, virtue signalling, PC and interventionist agenda.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      On the Russian poisoning incident, she does have the evidence.
      If the Russian state was responsible, Putin and his circle would be in denial about any involvement.
      If the Russian state wasn’t responsible, their first reaction would have been to get justice for their poisoned citizen ( the daughter that is, not her traitor father) and commit their support to locating those responsible.
      They are condemned out of their own mouth.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:01 am | Permalink

        No, I do not think she do have “beyond reasonable doubt” evidence yet.

        • Hope
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:23 am | Permalink

          May stands up to Russia while giving in to every demand to the EU! A weak deluded sole. Perhaps this story is to disguise another capitulation on immigration to the EU from our pathetic PM.

        • eeyore
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

          LL – she never will. Government rarely has the luxury of certainty. Dave Andrews’ argument above seems pretty strong to me though.

          The problem facing Mrs May – how to deal with a powerful state that has awarded itself the right to deploy WMD on others’ soil – is so grave that I feel she needs all the support she can get. She has few friends among those who comment here. Time to cut her some slack?

      • Bonding
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink


        • Bonding
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:38 am | Permalink

          nor provided the USA with a sample for testing, according to Trump, word of mouth. He did not say this violates the Security understanding between the Five Eyes in absolute but it is highly likely it does.
          So what is Mrs May up to?

      • Mitchel
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        FM,Sergey Lavrov,has requested samples of the poison so that they can do their own investigation because the daughter is a Russian citizen.

      • British Spy
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        It is obviously Russia. I cannot think of any other power or Interest who would simultaneously wish Russia lose face and previously wish Russia and a Japanese Sushi bar lose face

      • Bob
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

        @Dave Andrews

        “she does have the evidence.”

        I certainly hope so, because if her allegations are based on nothing more than suspicion she will end up looking as ridiculous as Blair & Campbell after the WMD fiasco.

        I personally cannot believe that Putin would have been so clumsy.
        The possibility of a false flag attack has to be considered, and the question of in whose interest would it be to trigger a conflict between Russia and the West?

        • APL
          Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:59 am | Permalink

          Bob: “I personally cannot believe that Putin would have been so clumsy.”

          It’s all theatre. If Putin wanted to ‘off’ this guy’, what better way to do it that a bullet to the back of the head on a dark night.

          Supposedly, the message is, don’t betray Russia, which would be sent home in an economical manner, with such a method.

          This whole ‘biological weapons’ schtick, is of a part with the, the Syrians used chemical agents against civilians’ drivel.

          It’s transparent propaganda to vilify the Russians, who it might be said, we would be better off with as allies. Or at least lucrative trading partners.

    • Norman
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      “May has surely been very silly indeed (once again) with her midnight Putin threats. What did she expect from him? She does not even have the full evidence yet. She is playing it very badly indeed as usual. What will she do now, she really is a very silly?”

      Unless the Government knows something we don’t know, it seems to me they’re now boxed in by their own rhetoric. Even if the Russians are behind the attack, there’s a need for the evidence to be unequivocal, before such precipitate action is taken. There are surely wiser ways to catch a monkey!

      • L Jones
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:57 am | Permalink

        Not a lot of mention of the homicidal maniac who actually planted this stuff. There is someone out there who has attempted murder yet our politicians are fixated on ”who’s behind it”. Some ONE did it – isn’t it important to find THAT person?
        (Sorry – off topic here.)

      • Hope
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        Russia and the world has witnessed May capitulate and cave in over every issue in dealing with the EU. They know they have nothing to fear from her. She is pathetic and national embarrassment.

      • Roy Grainger
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        “Unless the Government knows something we don’t know”

        What do you mean “Unless” ? Of course they do.

        • Norman
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

          Not necessarily. In view of subsequent comments on this thread, I should add that I am not at home with scornful remarks (I should have known better). Just saying, it seems to me that there are more diplomatic ways to achieve the same ends – as is often the case in any conflict. This may not end well for any of the parties involved.

        • Yorkie
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

          ““Unless the Government knows something we don’t know”

          What do you mean “Unless” ? Of course they do.””

          No. They do not. Their strength is that gullible people believing that when they behave irrationally, against International Law and Commonsense, AND hysterically, they somehow must be right because they are IMPORTANT.
          They would tell us if they knew, with smart aleck faces and swinging their shoulders and hips from side to side as usual.
          The fact is people were attacked or suffered chemical /gas poisoning from sources… totally unknown …they do not know and they want your vote by looking “decisive” and “knowledgeable”in the local elections. It is …highly likely…they have no soul.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      Perhaps if May had had children she would have learned not to issue worthless and empty threats to Putin. Especially before all the evidence and analysis has even come in.

      • Mitchel
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        Quite so.A crushing humiliation is on the way.19th century Russophobia is so,well,19th century.Seeing the TV news outlets trying to spin general disinterest from our allies as support for the PM yesterday was cringeworthy.

        • Hope
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

          All to hide her capitulation and weakness over immigration to the EU after we leave! Another red line rubbed out, not even pink!

    • Anonymous
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      We have treated Russia like dirt (no Putin fan here) and there was no need to make them enemies.

      Russia did not fit the Common Purpose ideals – especially at the Sochi Olympics where Putin was unenthusiastic about homosexuality and the BBC stoked up dislike about it.

      • Rien Huizer
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        What about Russia annexing one Ukrainian territory and destabilizing another one? Not worth mentioning? MH 17 (regardless of what role they played, without a conflict promoted by Russia and Russian equipment these innocent bystanders might still be around). Plenty of reasons to be less than friendly..

        • NickC
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

          Rien, What about the EU attempting to annex part of the UK? As well as stealing UK resources? And actually stealing our rights? Indeed what about the EU with Obama’s USA destabilising the Ukraine?

          • Rien Huizer
            Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:33 am | Permalink

            Nick C, Anonymous, APL, Mark B,

            No idea so many englishmen were Russophiles. Amazing

          • NickC
            Posted March 16, 2018 at 8:35 am | Permalink

            Rien, The EU is as bad as Russia in terms of propaganda, theft, corruption, power politics, and interfering in other countries. Surely, as you are a Europhile, that makes you a “Russophile”, not me?

          • APL
            Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

            Rien Huizer: “No idea so many englishmen were Russophiles. Amazing”

            Here is a simple formula for you Rien.

            Russia != Soviet Union.

        • Anonymous
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

          After certain members of the EU declared that they wanted our empire to extend borders right up to the Urals.

        • APL
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

          Rien Huizer: “Not worth mentioning? MH 17 (regardless of what role they played, ”

          “Regardless of what role they [ Russians ] played [ in the destruction of MH17], ?

          REGARDLESS … ??

        • Mark B
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

          The EU offered the Ukrainian President a trade agreement that included defence and security. This Russia objected to, so the then President refused to sign it. What transpired was an EU & US uprising which deposed the legitimate President. The EU has form. It persuaded the Italian President to sack Bernasconi and, the Greek PM when he dared to offer his people a referendum on the debt imposed upon them.

          Putin ain’t nice, but neither are a lot of people, who pretend otherwise.

      • zorro
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

        Nail on head….. They are not Common Purpose… They support the family, their own citizens, and their own country…… Everything CP is set up to undermind.

  5. Lifelogic.
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile, Fatal (and other) stabbings at highest level since start of decade.

    What did may actually achieve as Home Secretary for many years. Anything at all?

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      She maintained net immigration in the hundreds rather than tens, of thousands.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:04 am | Permalink

        This while “pretending” to be trying to hit the 10s of thousands. Also she lied to voters that we had control of our border through not being in Schengen in the referendum. She cannot possibly have really thought this can she?

        • NickC
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:11 am | Permalink

          Lifelogic, She will have been told we had control of our borders by the odious Remain civil service. And she’s too dim to know better.

    • Cheshire Girl
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      This is off topic, but if anyone wants to know how taxpayers money is wasted, this is a good example!!!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        Indeed totally insane and counterproductive – one of countless examples of government waste & insanity.

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

        Dame Louise said: “I would be quite old school about this and I would set a target that says by ‘x’ date we want everybody in the country to be able to speak a common language.”

        She added: “I don’t care how we’ve got here, I don’t care who can’t speak English [and] I don’t care what’s going on.

        “But what I do know is everybody of working age and of school age should be able to speak one language and I think the public in particular would feel some relief.”

        Well, they do speak one language. It just very often doesn’t happen to be English. I think people do also care how we got here, because how we got here is how we are continuing.

    • Anonymous
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Shows that blanket bans are unfair and ineffective.

      – Obesity ? Tax everyone, even the thin.

      – Knife crime ? Ban knives in public

      – Acid attacks ? Ban drain cleaner whilst giving the criminal who melted someone’s face a paltry 5 years inside (effective.)

      No wonder Putin smirks at Britain.

      (Note that most of this misuse is by Andy’s beloved and wise Remain generation.)

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        In my experience even when knife crimes are reported to the police little or nothing is done until someone is seriously injured that is.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

        I suggest there’s a lot of people from elsewhere who smirk at this nation, including the ones who now prevail upon its generosity and hospitality. Oh for strong leadership!


  6. Newmania
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    When you look back at old TV programmes , the ones that look most like the self image of the time in which they were made are the science fiction . The reason is that as no-one knows that the future will be you are free to fill it with any old rubbish
    Well we need a new category “ Econo-fiction” a form John Redwood has virtually invented in which he says any old thing on the basis that no-one likely to be reading his blog would know any better
    In fact when business investment is considered to be rising rapidly, it grows at a year on year rate of about 5 to 10 per cent, which means the growth rate since the Brexit referendum is still very low The pound is lower , inflation higher and our growth by comparison with our neighbours has visible altered position from good to bad
    The National debt , notwithstanding helicopter money theory propounded on this blog, has slid from 80p% to 90% and private debt, on which the sticking plaster consumer boom is based has swollen dangerously an unsustainably .
    The supposedly pessimistic forecast cannot factor in cancelling interest rate normalisation by which Brexits saviour , Mark Carney averted a recession born out of the sheer fear of Brexit

    We are currently being dragged along with the bpoming EU but as face fearless Putin ,Trump , one Redwood friends cares not . The EU will not help and we see what we have made ourselves , friendless weak and pathetic

    Another disgraceful pack of lies for the old and gullible. You might as well go round and sell roofing to dippy old ladies

    • Richard1
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      Well you have to admit that the outturn is much better than had been forecast by the Remain campaign under Project Fear – which predicted a recession on the back of a Brexit vote. Also, it must now be the case that a major pall over the outlook for the U.K. economy, and therefore for investment, is the fear of a neo-Marxist Government, expropriating assets from anyone it doesn’t like, and waging class war. Given that backdrop I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by how relatively buoyant things are. A few corrections of your piece are in order: net debt when you deduct the debt held by the state itself is more like 65%; the EU is hardly booming – youth unemployment is appalling in the southern Eurozone states, and growth remains lower in many of them than in the U.K., the Eurozone has itself been propped up by €2tr of QE – how will, eg, the Italian Govt fund itself when that stops? Some degree of balance would be welcome in this debate.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      I wouldn’t call business investment which is huge amount of annual spending which is rising by approx 10% “very low”
      Remainers predicted disaster if we voted Leave.
      Investment, which is a partial indication of future confidence is still growing at a good rate.

    • Mark B
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      Not everyone here is gullible. See my post above.

      But leaving the EU is the best thing we have done.

      And as for the EU countries, you will do well to remember that most of them are in receipt of monies from Germany and the UK, and one of those is leaving. So when they realise that and there may not be as much FREE MONEY floating around pumping up their economies, then we will see how well they do !

    • Tad Davison
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

      If I wrote something like that, I’d sign in to rehab.

  7. sm
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Setting up the OBR was an interesting project, and at the time I thought that Robert Chote was a good choice to be its head.

    After nearly eight years in action, it appears to have proved itself virtually useless and is therefore a waste of public money. I was going to say that any vitally necessary service it provides could surely be provided by a group within the Treasury, but then remembered how often the Treasury gets it wrong………..

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Dear sm–The name has puzzled me in that the OBR passes comment, usually wrong, every so often but is not what I would call “responsible” for anything. Get rid of it and much else, such as half the Cabinet.

    • acorn
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      OBR cost about £2.9 billion last year, £2 b of which on staff. Mr Chote gets £151 k plus £30 k pension contribution. All in the OBR Annual Report.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        “The OBR is financed via a Grant-in-Aid from HM Treasury. The Grant-in-Aid is credited to the general fund in the year in which it is received. The total Grant-in-Aid received by the OBR from HM Treasury for the year ended 31 March 2017 was £2,595,000.”

        So how were the other 99.9% of its £2.9 billion costs met?

        • acorn
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

          Denis. Look at “Statement of cash flows” on page 31 of the OBR Annual Report and Accounts. I can give you some good websites that explain how to understand financial accounts. The OBR is an Executive non-Departmental Public Body, 100% financed by the Treasury.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

            Acorn. Thanks for your offer of good websites on understanding financial accounts, here is one explaining that a billion is not the same as a million:


            The more commonly used US billion is not the same as a million, and nor was the old British billion when that was in use.

      • mancunius
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        …and according to the 2016-17 report, the OBR staff costs were increased 23% on the previous year: and total expenditure was an increase of 37%.

        This is a budgetary responsibility organisation that is apparently neither responsible nor capable of budgetary control.

      • John
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        The cost is £2.2m not billion.

        “Our budget is small at £2.234 million this year and is primarily spent on staff and accommodation costs. ”

        Page 20. I find that cost is small and I’d be certain the equivalent in the EU would be massively higher.

        • acorn
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

          Thanks John my mistake.

          I was quoting the 2016/17 accounts, you appear to have used the 2015/16 accounts.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:40 am | Permalink

            And clearly the cost has expanded a thousand fold …

    • oldtimer
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      When the OBR was set up originally, IIRC, most of its members transferred from the Treasury where they used to produce the same sort of forecasts for the Chancellor of the day. Its reported aim was to produce forecasts “independent” of the government.

  8. oldtimer
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    It is useful to have the cost of the transition set out at £37 billion. It is a handy reminder of what taxpayers are expected to cough up to keep the Remainers in the cabinet on side and which has failed to shut up Complainers at the CBI. The profligacy of the political class never ceases to amaze.

    • NickC
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Oldtimer, The £37bn is not just irresponsible and profligate, it’s inaccurate. The Vienna Convention is clear, whether we are talking about money or people, obligations and rights obtained before withdrawal from a treaty must be honoured.

      Yet between our “leaving” on 30th March 2019 and the expiry of the EU’s MFF budget commitments in December 2020 (1.75 years) our net payments to the EU would have amounted to less than £20bn (at current annual fee of c£20bn/year). Then our assets in the EU will offset even that smaller figure.

      What on earth is our government playing at?

  9. Lifelogic
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    I see that out governments have managed to devalue the pound so much that now they are considering scrapping irritating 1p and 2p coins (5p too surely). The governments have halved the value of the pound against the Swiss Franc in just 10 years. Perhaps we should take a Swiss “office for budget responsibility” approach when we are finally out of the EU as they are. A GDP per cap of double ours too might be nice too.

    Meanwhile Hammond is bouncing like Tigger boasting about a mere 1.5% growth rate. At this growth rate then in 47 years we will have the GDP per cap that Switzerland has already! What pathetic ambition Philip Hammond has.

    There is no reason at all the UK should not be wealthier they Switzerland we have very many advantages, we are larger, have a coast, fishing, some natural resources & rather more flat land. Alas we have the huge disadvantage of very poor serial socialist governments, the lefty BBC, huge over taxation, government expenditure at circa 45% of GDP (rather than nearer the 30% as they have) and public services that are generally dreadful despite all this tax.

    Inheritance taxes in Switzerland are last time I looked more like 6% rather than Hammond’s 40% and top rate of property purchase tax at about 3.3% rather than Hammond’s absurd 15%.

    Hammond/May (and the very real threat Corbyn/McDonnall) are telling the rich and hardworking to leave the UK now and other not to come and invest.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      Italy has sensibly introduced a Non Dom, tax cap system. 100,000 euros cap for overseas income. Inheritance tax at just 4-8% over 1 million euros.

      Meanwhile Philip Hammond is foolishly chasing them all out of the UK. He really is a total disaster for the economy. Just not quite as bad as the alternative.

  10. Andy
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    The most interesting thing we learned yesterday is that we will still be paying the Tory hard-right pensioner Brexit bill until 2064.

    Many of today’s most vocal Brexiteers will have left the table by this stage. You yourself will celebrate your 113th birthday in the year we finally settle your bill Mr Redwood.

    Other vocal Brexiteers in Parliament will also have long since received their telegrams from King William – who will turn 87 in the year the Tory Brexit tab is gone.

    My son is 6. His generation will still be paying for your folly when they are in their 50s. And that’s just the bill – the huge amounts of lost growth in Little Britain will cost them even
    more still.

    Still – no doubt it will all be worth it for older Brexit voters who are excited that they’ll get to use their big blue passport once a year on their annual trip to Benidorm.

    Reply What an absurd piece. If we had stayed in we would be paying that bill and a massively larger bill alongside it! No deal remains better than a bad deal …..

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      Let us hope May is prevented from accepting a bad deal.

    • a-tracy
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Surely, Andy, you could look at this as the UK cutting its losses and getting out before this becomes a real weight around your children’s necks, this payment is for already accrued pensions, not future pension accruals after we leave? The big complaint is why is the EU so poorly run this pension fund wasn’t already set up and funds we’ve already paid in used to provide this pension.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Of course UK taxpayers will be paying into the EU for decades, Andy, because PEOPLE LIKE YOU agreed that we should pay for the pensions of EU bureaucrats and they will still be getting those pensions for decades. We could choose to settle for a lump sum payment to clear our future obligations instead, but probably it will be better for us to spread it out over the years as the payments fall due. Please try to understand that it is PEOPLE LIKE YOU, the unpatriotic antidemocratic EU enthusiasts, who have been entirely responsible for placing this burden on UK taxpayers, not those who opposed our EU membership with all its costs. Or would you suggest that because you have lost the argument, and the referendum, and we are now leaving the EU we should break the promises which PEOPLE LIKE YOU made on our behalf and in most cases against our wishes? Would that be your idea of a decent and honourable country? Or would you only break the promises made to pensioners in your own country, who sick PEOPLE LIKE YOU would prefer to be dead as soon as possible, and presumably including your own parents, and not the promises made to previous employees of your precious EU?

    • Andy's Pandy
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Many of the most vocal enthusiasts of the Common Market (EU) in 1975 have left the building.

      So what ? I say.

      But then I understand how democracy works and you clearly don’t, Andy.

    • NickC
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Well, Andy, that’s what happens when you insist on being part of a corrupt organisation like the EU – somebody has to pick up the tab to clear up the mess. If we hadn’t remained in the EEC in 1975 we wouldn’t have to pay. That remain referendum result was the real mistake the baby-boomers made. And those older people have now finally corrected their error.

      • hans chr iversen
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

        yes, to the detriment of teh young who should ahve gone and voted as well, then we might ahve been better prepared for this somewhat messy daparture

        • mancunius
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

          It is precisely the young who will benefit from not having to pay increasing sums of money to support countries that evade their duty of earning themselves a living; the young who will be freed from bearing the burden of the euro as it hurtles towards a crash, and from not being forced to endure the tyranny of an unelected quango; and the young who will develop new models of more direct democracy as they explore the freedom of self-government.
          The mess will be that of the EU as it fights over its future – a future its citizens can never agree on.
          In Britain we know the true price of freedom – it is priceless.

          • hans chr iversen
            Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:28 am | Permalink

            Is this why we rang well below a lot of European countries in terms of democracy according to EIU. All the Nordics, Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg are before us with Switzerland, so do not talk about freedom rubbish with me

      • L Jones
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        Well said, Nick C. My children’s ages are about the same as Andy’s, and I’m glad that they won’t now have to be strangled by the ever-growing tentacles of the execrable EU. They won’t have to join an EU army either (should the EU last long enough to form one) and waste their youth possibly in conflict with their own people.

        Thank you, baby boomers, for putting your children’s interests first, and, above all, showing us, your families, how hard work and responsible money management can create a comfortable and successful life – for yourselves and for your children, and your country too. Perhaps Andy should work harder at making himself a boomer, instead of displaying this unattractive whinging envy of other people’s success.

        How can remainders like Andy think for a moment that the EU has a status quo? Its very existence depends upon constant change – empire building, expansionism and coercive dependency. So he thinks that’s okay, does he?

    • Andy
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      There is nothing absurd about my point at all.

      The money we currently invest in the EU is returned to us several times over in value. The money we pay makes us all better off.

      You know this phenomenon well Mr Redwood – it’s the method your rich friends use to make themselves richer. Nobody ever got rich by hoarding cash.

      Conversely we are paying your Brexit bill to make us all poorer.

      And when I say ‘we’ are paying it – I mean my generation and my children’s generations are paying for it for you.

      Because the baby boomers – who gifted us the Brexit mess – clearly won’t be paying their bill. Again the selfish boomers pillaging our country and shafting their children.

      Your collective nostalgia for blue passports, pink maps and white faces comes at the expense of your children’s prosperity. Shame on you all.

      • a-tracy
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

        The passports could be pink for all most people care Andy.

        Answer this, why didn’t the EU set up a proper Pension savings scheme for its very generous payment offer to EU staff. Much in excess of what the average Brit could ever dream of?

      • mancunius
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

        “The money we currently invest in the EU is returned to us several times over in value. The money we pay makes us all better off.”

        Now, you already know that is a direct lie. According to the EU Commission itself, it’s made a difference of ‘pehaps’ 1% to our GDP during our membership.
        So the many billions we have paid Brussels so far has made us ‘perhaps’ 1%
        If you believe that is worth paying hundreds of billions of pounds for continued membership into the distant future, I have a bridge you might like to buy.

        You haven’t ever produced any truthful argument in favour of remaining in the EU.

        What is it that you personally have gained from by being in the EU? What are its personal benefits to you? What is the personal disadvantage you feel you have from leaving?

        You never say – which makes your daily Two Minutes Hate seem not a little disingenuous.

      • NickC
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        Andy said: “The money we currently invest [sic] in the EU is returned to us several times over in value.”

        We don’t receive any money at all from the EU. We do get various refunds from our gross payment, but we are still net payers into the EU.

        We do export to customers in the EU states; but a UK built car sold to France is worth no more than the same model sold to the USA.

        Try again, Andy.

    • Andy Bandy
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Using your kids again, Andy. As though you’re the only parent here.

      You want to ban certain people from voting and standing for Parliament.

      You exhort us all to embrace open borders yet choose private education so your kids are exempt from the pressures on the state system.

      Niiice !

    • Richard1
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Wonderful snobbery as well as great confusion from Andy. Payments to the EU will be lower out than in under all outcomes, hopefully substantially lower. It’s interesting that even Vince Cable – who is intelligent – can’t seem to come up with coherent anti-Brexit arguments and has to rely instead on insults and falsehoods. I suppose we shouldn’t therefore expect good arguments from you!

  11. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    “Sustained falling of debt for the first time in seventeen years” while continuing to spend more than we earn.

    While figures are being presented in this abstract form I will continue to be sceptical about every announcement.

    £8.7 billion for ongoing pension commitments to EU pensions. No wonder the establishment does not want to leave and miss out on their turn at the trough.

  12. David Murfin
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    “The OBR says they now do not know whether “growth slowed down, speeded up or remained stable between 2016 and 2017” ” = “We do not know what we are doing”

    • Top Feeder
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      The OBR do believe it is highly likely the Russians are to blame. Interference in our economy via social media…. which caused Brexit. It all fits if you skim the surface and are shallow of thought.

  13. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    £50 million to teach “residents” to speak English?

    If you come to this country voluntarily you should learn the language yourself and bear any integration costs yourself. Moving is troublesome and the costs should be factored in before the decision is taken.

    No taxpayer support (including benefits) for voluntary immigrants

  14. alan jutson
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    If forecasts always seem to be continuously wrong, why does someone in charge not change the system/working model, to try to get more accurate results.?

    Many years ago on this site I suggested the Chancellor set budgets from historical past known figures (last years known tax receipts) and allow a small margin to pay off debt, rather than simply guessing the future figures, which are inevitably wrong.

    Aware you are then behind the curve, but the margin set for debt payoff should more than cover that movement.

  15. Adam
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    If the OBR could predict the future, they could make a single investment & retire from any need for paid work.

    • mancunius
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      Years ago a financial advisor confided in me that senior, well-paid state employees were the most difficult to convince of the need for investment. Because they earn so much and receive such generous pensions, they just stick any spare cash in the bank at low interest. They take no risks at all, but are rewarded as if they do.

      • a-tracy
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:00 am | Permalink

        quite true mancunius. This is why it would be preferable for all of us to be in the same sort of pension savings schemes so that politicians and civil servants making decisions on our pension schemes and taxes are affected by their policies just the same and bear the same fear of fund failure and unknown retirement salary from their savings, then they may not be so blasé with their changes.

  16. Ian wragg
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    If you factor in the increase in population and government borrowing there is no real increase in per capita income.
    GDP grows as we get poorer. Yesterday I took my wife to outpatients. I was amazed at the number of immigrants as patients and NHS staff.
    We are paying heavily for the misguided policies of successive governments and it won’t end well.

    • Anonymous
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      Legal immigrants are bringing over elderly parents for NHS holidays.

      • bigneil
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        Some legal ones are bringing them over to be put in care homes, at about £1000 a week to the taxpayer.
        And illegal ones, criminals, use “Right to Family Life” to get their relatives here PERMANENTLY.

        • Andy Bandy
          Posted March 14, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

          Subsidised by your mum in the next bed, BN.

          May tried to sell us this policy at the last GE.

  17. Sakara Gold
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    The OBR is behaving like a typical “jobs for the boys” quango. Why are we paying them substantial annually reviewed salaries (and will also be paying them non-contributory index linked final salary pensions in due course) to produce innaccurate figures such as these?

    I wonder where the £37b is going to come from. Clearly, the french and the germans do not wish to take on the additional expenditure once we leave. Perhaps Hammond is intending to cut it from the NHS budget?

    • Hope
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      it is £100 billion, not £37 billion.

  18. agricola
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    In fairness to any organisation that makes a forecast free of political considerations it is only a forecast. I would be inclined to ask ,if they got it right every time, why ain’t you rich. Even when actual results are announced they often get modified as further information comes in. I am pleased that the trend is to a more optimistic outlook and hope it continues. Now is the time for spelling out reality to the EU who, putting it politely, seem a very curmudgeonly lot. Very important to get the message to those affected by the EU intransigence, the nation states. Even being very specific as to how it will affect their exporters and borrowers of finance.

  19. John
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Whilst 37bn is a price worth paying I’m troubled by the 2.5bn per annum from 2021 to 2066 to pay for administration.

    The admin costs of running the EU bureaucracy is 8.4 billion per annum so why are we paying 1/3 of it for 45 years after we have left?

    • alan jutson
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:11 am | Permalink


      Lets just wait and see what the final deal which is proposed looks like.

      As I understand it nothing is agreed until all is agreed, although like you, I do wonder who would even think of paying in sums of this magnitude for so long when we are told there is no legal case for doing so.

      Quite why we simply did not just walk away when we put in the article 50 letter and then said we would be trading under WTO terms, but are happy to talk in the meantime about simple co-operative projects, I just do not know.

      Both sides have made this far more complicated they they needed to, the EU to gain more money, the UK because we lack self belief.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      “The body estimates that for the years 2019 and 2020 the UK will contribute “as if it had remained in the Union” – a total of £ From 2021-2028, the UK will pay £18.2bn as part of “reste a liquider”, in other words the EU’s unfunded future liabilities.

      Between 2019 and 2064, the UK is also down to pay £2.5bn for “other net liabilities”, mostly linked to pensions.”

      • John
        Posted March 14, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink


        The total annual cost of staff salaries, pensions, offices, computers, etc is 8.4 bn so 2.5 bn to pay for our share is not possible. We currently are paying or meant to be paying about 10% of the cost as a member.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

          But that £2.5 billion is not an annual sum, it is the total of expected payments between 2019 and 2064, a period of 45 years:

          “The body estimates that for the years 2019 and 2020 the UK will contribute “as if it had remained in the Union” – a total of £

          From 2021-2028, the UK will pay £18.2bn as part of “reste a liquider”, in other words the EU’s unfunded future liabilities.

          Between 2019 and 2064, the UK is also down to pay £2.5bn for “other net liabilities”, mostly linked to pensions.””

          In fact I expect the UK will still be paying towards those pensions, and probably not just for the present employees but also for their longer lived spouses, even after 2064.

          We have PEOPLE LIKE ANDY to thank for this.

    • ian wragg
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Why are we paying ANY admin charges after we have left. Only someone terminally stupid would agree with that.

    • John
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      Agreed Ian and Alan.
      Even with pensions, the 5 agencies they want to continue to be part of that does not come to 2.5bn. And if it does then lets take those in house.

      We have limits on pensions in the UK. Bad ones admittedly.

  20. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    The old maxim garbage in, garbage out springs to mind when considering economic forecasts, which are mostly, if not always, wrong.

  21. Epikouros
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Forecasting is very fashionable but notoriously difficult to get right. Assumptions used can vary enormously depending on the competence and bias of those doing the forecasting. Even if those things do not adversely affect the forecast many other factors that cannot be known in advance are in play. One such factor that has a major bearing on outcomes is human behaviour as it is far too complex and fickle to ever predict. I believe institutions such as the OBR, the Treasury and the BoE have a mind set deficit as they are like generals always fighting the next war based on perceptions of one fought previously. Innovation and thinking outside the established practices and ideological orthodoxy box are an anathema to them.

    They are hampered by their own certainties. Using the starting point that professional experts, politicians, bureaucrats, pundits and the state can do no wrong. That when things do go awry it is not the establishment or their fault it is other pesky people who will not conform and do as they tell them. To them the EU is a marvelous project and are other such expert and politically driven actions and policies which if riddled with flaws are regrettable but should be ignored for the greater good. To do otherwise and actually look at better alternatives like Brexit and non state interventions would be having to admit their on failings. For them that is inconceivable as they would no longer be able to justify their work or their job.

  22. Rien Huizer
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    No deal is best (imo, the EU will be reluctant to agree with this weak government on anything so “no deal” is the most likely outcome). Why not go ahead and tell the EU that there is no need for negotiations? Well there is the small matter of an exit agreement (bills attached) but for the rest, it should be quite easy. I guess that if that is what the mean UK voter wants, politicians would be competing among themselves to achieve that result. But that soort of activity is barely visible. Why? Is there maybe a deal -available- that is better than no deal? And what would it be? No havbing and eating, of course, but what else?

    • NickC
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      Rien, Your cheek is actually quite amusing – “the mean UK voter” indeed! We have been subsidising you for 44 years out of the last 45.

      • hans chr iversen
        Posted March 15, 2018 at 9:33 am | Permalink


        Typically you coming out with statements about subsidies to the rest of Europe, with no facts or figures, but unfortunately this is the sort of level of argument we have come to expect from you.

        • NickC
          Posted March 16, 2018 at 10:03 am | Permalink

          Hans, It’s about time you did some research instead of continuing to make your wild accusations. Data about the UK’s net payments to the EU are widely available from the internet on sites such as the ONS, Parliamentary briefings, newspapers, and here, etc.

  23. BOF
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Others here have mentioned Quango’s. Perhaps, John, you could do a series of blogs about them. Yes I know there are an alarming number, but if we got rid of half of them, surely that would be another huge economic benefit to the economy, both in the cost of running them as well as reduction in people paid out of the public purse with resulting pension commitments.

    There must be many that are completely unnecessary.

    • Mark B
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      I agree.

  24. Jason Wells
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    There is one good way to deal with Russia and that is for the government and hopefully the governments of Western Europe to announce that in the interest of public health and safety the general public is advised to not travel to Russia or anywhere else East until the problem of the latest mysterious availability of nerve poison, and who is behind the attempted murder, is cleared up? This year we had the Salisbury poisoning, last year we had the Kuala Lumpur airport poisoning, but who knows maybe it’ll be Moscow airport next time since all information coming to us, is that this latest poison batch, is originating from that direction.

  25. Derek Henry
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Hammond is trying to hijack Brexit the guy is a fool.

    Who thinks we are still on a gold standard and fixed exchange rates. The days when taxes actuallt did fund government spending.

    As both the Bank Of England and the ONS clearly point out when talking about our sectoral balances.

    If you run a trade deficit and run a government budget surplus then you only get one outcome.


    It’s the same old, same old, grow the economy on private debt that never works. Do the fiscal Conservatives know any other way ?

  26. Derek Henry
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    The Institute for Fiscal Studies release will be filled more gold standard fixed exchange rate nonsense than Hammonds speech and that takes some doing.

    Then it will be paraded around every TV channel as if it has some authority as if it is factual with the aim to keep brainwashing the sheep. An unelected shit pile.

    Nobody within the media will even challenge Paul Johnson on his gold standard fixed exchange rate beliefs. He’ll have carte blanche which makes him one of the most dangerous men in the UK today.

    The people the tories have dragged in to run the news in the BBC have worked both in the city and at the financial times. Some of them know it is all bullshit but still edit it all as the truth and then send it out to the public.

    It is a disgrace and surely breaking the law.

  27. Denis Cooper
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, JR, I wonder why various parties carry on proposing “solutions” for the Irish border which the Irish government is clearly going to reject out of hand, and with great noise, and always with the backing of the EU.

    Perhaps some didn’t notice the Irish government adopting a new absurd, extreme and intransigent position towards the end of last year:

    “… When you have an Irish minister saying that they will not tolerate

    “anything that would imply a border on the island of Ireland” … ”

    Or perhaps some are just trying to make mischief? So now months later we have:

    “Irish Prime Minister dismisses plan to register in advance to cross border after Brexit being studied by No 10”

    “The Irish Prime Minister has attacked a plan for people to register in advance to cross the border without checks after Brexit, which is being studied by Theresa May.

    Leo Varadkar dismissed the idea – revealed by The Independent – as he turned on senior UK Cabinet ministers for failing to visit the border in order to understand it better.

    Under the plan, anyone without clearance for “fast track movement” would have to use approved crossing points or would be “considered to have entered the state irregularly”.

    CCTV and cameras to track vehicle number plates would be needed at some crossing points – despite the Prime Minister’s promise that the border will continue to have no “physical infrastructure”.

    Nevertheless, Ms May told MPs she has “asked officials to look at it very carefully”, adding: “I believe it gives some very good proposals for solutions.””

    • jack Snell
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Denis..that is why they call it the Irish problem. Presumably if there was a border across dividing Cornwall from the rest of the UK we would call it an English problem. The Irish Prime Minister is entitled to fight his corner on this and from what I see he has some heavy weights in his corner. Theresa May allowed herself to be boxed into the same corner last December when she agreed there would be no visible economic border on the island and when she also promised the Unionists there would be no border checks between Britain and NI.. so with UK leaving the EU customs union and the single market the puzzle is how do you square all of this? how can you work it out so that it makes sense. For a hundred years the Irish have suffered a political border through the country they are not now going to allow another type of customs controlled border in on top of this. All of this should have been thought out by our masters before we embarked with activating A50? it’s our problem, our dilemma, no point in spreading the muck by putting it onto the Irish PM..I would remind all that our argument is with the EU and not the Irish.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        I square it by saying that the integrity of the EU Single Market is clearly a matter primarily for the EU and not for the UK, as it is after all their Single Market not ours, but even when we are no longer part of it we are willing to be good neighbours and help them to preserve its integrity.

        Which could easily be done by the UK passing and enforcing new UK laws to provide the EU and Irish authorities with a satisfactory reassurance that every effort will be made to prevent the export of illicit goods from the UK across the EU’s external border into the Republic.

        I would also point out that the integrity of the EU Single Market has never been perfect, for example:

        “Food safety authorities from Kosovo informed their Belgian counterparts of possible food fraud in September 2016, but the Belgians only began investigating last February, Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws reported Tuesday. A Belgian company reportedly exported twelve-year-old meat to Kosovo with falsified labels. Belgian agriculture minister Denis Ducarme said he would order an audit of the Belgian food agency.”

      • mancunius
        Posted March 16, 2018 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

        It is the EU that has put the problem on the Irish PM by demanding an impossible and unacceptable political solution, and refusing to examine the genuine solutions proposed by the UK and described by Cambridge economist Graham Gudgin in ‘Brexit and the Irish border’. The Irish soft border can be maintained with the aid of technology, flexibility, and mutual goodwill. So far the EU has pretended the RoI is a vassal of Brussels, and Varadkar is playing along with that, in his own interests, and trying to match Brussels in its lack of goodwill.

  28. hans chr iversen
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink


    It is great we ahve higher growth and productivity is beginning to rise again.

    It is just unfortunate due to the various circumstances we still ahve the lowest growth rate among the G20 for next year as well

    • mancunius
      Posted March 16, 2018 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      You are presumably mean 2018, and you are citing an OECD forecast. (In English we call the current year ‘this year’.)
      If you believe the 2018 forecasts by the OECD, I have a bridge to sell you. But even the OECD has not as yet attempted to do a Nostradamus on 2019.

      • mancunius
        Posted March 16, 2018 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        ‘You presumably mean 2018’ etc

  29. PrezleB
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Any money we have agreed to pay to the EU as part of our departing negotiation in December has nothing to do with any future relationship with owed for decisions made in the past and decisions to fund EU projects into the future already made while we are still part of the EU will still have to be paid if we are to discharge our debts and departing responsibilities . Trying to Conflate matters by putting a spin on things like saying nothing is agreed until everything is agreed etc is only keeping up some kind of a pretense but will not stand up when the time comes.

  30. Prigger
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Mrs May’s address to Parliament on Salisbury was a disgrace. It is significant she received immediate and wholehearted support from the SNP whose declared aim is to destroy us.

    Mr Corbyn, for the first time, shows he really must be Prime Minister. Mrs May is a threat to our Security, Defence and free speech…our very democracy.

    I see earlier, answering a question about Facebook banning the online presence of a non-proscribed LEGAL Right-wing UK political grouping said she was in favour of its silencing. From her own mouth! With the support of SNP, LibDems, DUP and right-wingers opponents of democracy within the Labour Party.

    It is only Mr Corbyn’s continued presence which provides even a glimmer of hope we may become a free nation again albeit one devoid of economic commonsense. But FREE

    Mrs May has consistently proved herself and her associates to be a severe and potent threat to our well-being…and basic democracy.

    Oh and she later made a comment in the House agreeing with one of her cronies The British Communist Party “will not stand against Corbyn” and pointed out the association is in line with his pro_russian-ness.
    Again The Communist Party is LEGAL, non-proscribed and for the idiots ..Putin is anti-communist!!!!!Anti-socialist!!!!Ostensibly though, he says he believes in free-speech.Mrs May has declared openly she is NOT

  31. ian
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    World depression to get worse as we go into 2021, they will call it the trump slump, you’re a bit short of 2.2 GDP forecast.
    300,000 people in a year are barely keeping your growth system afloat, you should up the neoliberal system of growth up another 300,000 a year for good measure, I have lost count of the many trillions around the world that have been thrown at this depression now, also the number of cuts and taxes increases, all to no avail, it is no wonder that con party is trying to lose elections.

  32. Bob
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    It is only Mr Corbyn’s continued presence which provides even a glimmer of hope we may become a free nation again albeit one devoid of economic commonsense. But FREE

    Exactly right.
    Actually, most MPs are totally insane when it comes to Foreign Policy.

    • Bob
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      NB. I did not post this comment.
      There must have been some mistake.

  33. The Prangwizard
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    May I be allowed to make a plea to contributors. Please to not ‘feed’ Andy. Do not respond to anything he posts. Doing so simply encourages him.

    • Prigger
      Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

      I used to think like Andy. Let him speak. We all get to a point where we think we have been there, seen it, got the tee-shirt. It comes as a shock each and every time afterwards we get somewhere else, see it, put on another tee-shirt and pretend we never had any other. It’s not called growing up. That is just a self-compliment. It is just the wisdom that whatever we get to think, it’s probably wrong 🙂

  34. Centre Winger
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    MacRon…..”Ahhhhhhhhhr” as they chant on MP benches

  35. Richard
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Mr Hammond gave away the plot (again) when he said in the HoC yesterday that ‘forecasts are there to be beaten’.
    No they’re not; forecasts should be objective, not an exercise in managing expectations.

    2016 GDP growth was repeatedly upgraded to 1.9%. The ONS said 0n 26 Jan that 2017 GDP growth was 1.8%, so in ‘forecasting’ 2017 at 1.7% is the OBR still playing catch-up?

    The Bank of England forecast for UK GDP to expand by 1.7% in 2018 and 1.8% in 2019 is higher:

  36. Richard
    Posted March 14, 2018 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
    There is a 30-page detailed report explaining why the UK owes nothing to the EU:
    The ERG have suggested that the implementation period should be a WTO-compliant interim period in contemplation of an FTA. Martin Howe QC has also suggested another alternative:
    So far simpler, cheaper & safer alternatives to the two year Vassal State period do exist.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 15, 2018 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      Apart from just one year we’ve been giving to the EEC/EC/EU ever since we joined, and I wouldn’t mind agreeing to a farewell gift of £37 billion if that bought us some goodwill. However so far there is little sign of any goodwill.

  37. Ron Olden
    Posted March 17, 2018 at 3:29 am | Permalink

    The accuracy of these types of forecasting is abysmal fro all sources.

    It appears to me that they use figures which are already out of date, by the time they are released. They should update them, the day before they come out.

    It’s quite normal, for example, for the full year budget deficit forecast released in March, two weeks before the end of the financial year, to be billions of pounds wrong, and yet the media pours over forecasts for five years hence, as if they are gospel.

    I do however have some sympathy for the OBR in forecasting productivity. Productivity growth globally, and in the UK, has been slowing for years, and no one knows why. So it wasn’t unreasonable for the OBR to incorporate this slowdown in their forecasts. But as soon as they did, it speeded up again sharply. Perhaps it will slow again. Who knows?

    It might be to do with businesses having to improve productivity because the labour market is so tight, and the boost to manufacturing from the lower pound affecting the figures.

    Productivity is typically higher in any increase in manufacturing output, than it is in day to day services largely because nearly all the extra production comes from the same workforce and plant.

  • 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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