Delivering his Budget speech on Wednesday, George Osborne could not resist spelling out the supposedly ‘negative implications’ of Brexit.
That the Chancellor quoted Britain’s independent financial watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility, to back his case was bad enough.
But it was the way he selectively quoted parts of an OBR document that bordered on the edge of mendacity.
By playing fast and loose with the truth in one part of his Budget speech, Mr Osborne has damaged the credibility of the rest of his facts and figures
The watchdog’s position could not be clearer: it has no opinion on Brexit. It does not claim to know whether leaving the EU will damage our economy – and is open to the possibility that the UK may actually benefit as a result.
By playing fast and loose with the truth in one part of his Budget speech, Mr Osborne has damaged the credibility of the rest of his facts and figures.
The Chancellor should eschew such cheap stunts and focus his energies on restoring Britain’s economy to the black – a prospect that the Institute of Fiscal Studies said yesterday should be keeping him awake at night.
Cap in hand to the EU
The saga of the so-called ‘tampon tax’ encapsulates all that is wrong with this country’s relationship with the EU.
Brussels forces British women to pay five per cent VAT on sanitary products. Confronted by this unpopular measure, George Osborne concocted a bizarre ‘solution’ by which the Government gives all the revenue to women’s charities.
Yesterday, an embarrassed Chancellor announced that the tax could probably be scrapped. But it will not be abolished by the British Government. Instead, Mr Osborne is hoping that the Prime Minister will be able to wring this concession out of Brussels.
And there you have it in a nutshell. Brussels can impose taxes on Britain and we have to go cap in hand to unelected bureaucrats if we want to change them.
Just 500,000 have applied to HMRC for the marriage tax allowance
The hidden tax break
Following a long campaign by the Mail, David Cameron introduced the marriage tax allowance as a means of ‘bolstering the institution’.
More than four million Britons are eligible.
But, as we report today, just 500,000 have applied to HM Revenue and Customs for it.
It is hard to escape the conclusion that HMRC – not wanting to lose money – has done nothing to promote this tax break.
How devious. How depressing.
Spell it out, Sajid
Sajid Javid, the energetic Business Secretary, is doing himself no favours at the moment. His position on the EU is bizarre: he claims to be a profound Eurosceptic while supporting ‘remain’.
And he declined six times to tell Jon Snow on Wednesday’s Channel 4 News whether, when he was a senior employee at Deutsche Bank, he was involved in an elaborate ‘Houdini’ scheme to avoid tax.
He insists, however, that he did not benefit from it.
May we offer some advice? Since he has done nothing illegal, Mr Javid should spell out his involvement with the scheme. Then he can get on with contributing his considerable talents to the urgent task of helping Britain’s businesses.
Cliff Michelmore, who has died aged 96, presented the brilliant current affairs programme Tonight – which, at its peak in the 1960s, had 20million viewers.
His style was self-effacing yet authoritative, and the programme was a fine example of the BBC’s historic mission to inform, educate and entertain.
What a stark contrast to the glib presenters and tawdry rubbish Auntie often pumps out to diminishing audiences these days.