The Guardian, for example, claims: “Osborne will warn that he would have to fill the £30bn black hole in public finances triggered by a vote to leave the European Union by hiking income tax, alcohol and petrol duties and making massive cuts to the NHS, schools and defence. In a sign of the panic gripping the remain campaign, the chancellor plans to say that the hit to the economy will be so large that he will have little choice but to tear apart Conservative manifesto promises in an emergency budget delivered within weeks of an out vote.”
It’s almost a classic example of baby throwing his toys out of the pram; if the vote doesn’t go his way, Osborne is threatening to reverse all the policy decisions of the last six years, make liars of Tory colleagues who have promised to protect the NHS (for example) and above all, make everyone pay.
Will he be able to see it through?
Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK says no: “Osborne will not be Chancellor to deliver another budget. If Leave win he and Cameron will have to go… If Remain win he has little chance of staying either because the margin of victory is likely to be so small that this will also require that he and Cameron go.
“Second, this is not true because he will not know the consequence within a weeks, and so would be most unwise to react hastily.
“Third, it may be that running a bigger deficit funded by QE (which will be much easier outside the EU) is a completely viable option post a vote for Leave and he might actually realise that and change his absurd adherence to the demands of a balanced budget.
“Fourth, his forecasting record is so bad… why believe him?”
Jonathan Portes of NIESR also says there won’t be an emergency budget:
ITV News says more than 50 MPs will vote down George Osborne’s emergency budget.
But just take a look at the list of these MPs’ names. None of them strike This Writer as being particularly anti-cuts, and some have been positive cheerleaders for them. They are: Iain Duncan Smith, Liam Fox, Cheryl Gillan, David Jones, Owen Paterson, John Redwood, Sir Gerald Howarth, Tim Loughton, Crispin Blunt, Sir William Cash, Bernard Jenkin, Julian Lewis, Adam Afriyie, Nigel Adams, Lucy Allan, Steve Baker, Bob Blackman, Peter Bone, Andrew Bridgen, David Burrowes, Maria Caulfield, Christopher Chope, Chris Davies, Philip Davies, David TC Davies, Nadine Dorries, Steve Double, Richard Drax, Nigel Evans, Michael Fabricant, Marcus Fysh, Chris Green, Rebecca Harris, Gordon Henderson, Philip Hollobone, Adam Holloway, Kwasi Kwarteng, Jonathan Lord, Craig Mackinlay, Anne Main, Karl McCartney, Nigel Mills, Anne Marie Morris, Sheryl Murray, David Nuttall, Matthew Offord, Andrew Percy, Tom Pursglove, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Andrew Rosindell, Henry Smith, Derek Thomas, Anne Marie Trevelyan, Martin Vickers, David Warburton, Bill Wiggin and William Wragg [I’ve bolded up the names of some of the most infamous].
Looking at that list, Owen Jones had it right when he sarcastically tweeted: “Oh, so Tory MPs now oppose cuts, do they! What a miraculous political conversion.”
Perhaps they know they can say this because it isn’t going to happen.
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