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Philip Hammond: The last time I saw a face like that, Josef Goebbels was behind it [Image: PA Wire].

Philip Hammond: The last time I saw a face like that, Josef Goebbels was behind it [Image: PA Wire].

An article on the UK’s financial system was on its way from This Blog when the news broke about the Treasury’s dire performance; I wanted to sharpen my claws for the Autumn Statement.

We all knew the news was going to be bad – didn’t we? So I was going to say how useful it is for Philip Hammond to have a job that requires him to give speeches, simply in order to prevent the rest of us from making a natural assumption and putting him in a coffin.

I was also going to suggest that – when he does make speeches – his face reminds me of nobody else but Josef Goebbels, the minister for propaganda in Nazi Germany; a comparison that is likely to be all-too-appropriate if he tries to put an optimistic spin on this mess.

Who was the fool who forecast a 27 per cent deficit reduction this year, anyway? Was it George Osborne? Ye gods.

Yes, it was the towel-folder. Having failed to meet any of his deficit-reduction targets – at all – he pencilled in a borrowing reduction of £20 billion, to £55 billion by the end of March next year. So far, borrowing is indeed lower – but by only 2.3 billion.

Osborne’s prediction is likely to be adrift by £16 billion by the time the financial year finally grinds to a halt.

And now the UK is having to find extra money to pay an angry EU, at a time when income is likely to drop as confidence starts to waver in the face of unremitting incompetence from Theresa May and her clique.

No wonder Hammond remains “committed to fiscal discipline”.

It means he’ll squeeze the poor until we starve, just to keep borrowing at the same rate as last year. Tories always take more from the state than they ever pay back.

The chancellor’s plans to reduce the deficit are unlikely to get back on track this year, an internal briefing document for ministers has revealed.

The Treasury document, which was marked “sensitive”, also revealed the UK faced a £700m bill after the EU referendum result, with Britain’s contribution to the EU growing by 25.9% compared with the same period last year.

Treasury sources, who said the document was posted in error on the government’s website, said the most recent payments had been larger than usual because of smaller payments made earlier in the year.

The briefing warns that the government is “unlikely to bring deficit reduction entirely back on track” and that the “continuing run of disappointing data” meant there was a “severe worsening in the public finances”.

“For the year to date the deficit is £2.3bn lower than last year; at a fall of 4.8%, well behind the 27.0% reduction forecast,” the document says.

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, has insisted since October that although the government will not now seek a surplus by 2020, it remains “committed to fiscal discipline”.

Source: UK budget deficit plan off target – secret Treasury document | Politics | The Guardian

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