Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Overdrawn - The Autumn Statement

We've all been there.

The bank statement arrives and fills you with dread. You know it's not good, so you can't bring yourself to open it. Spare a thought then for Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond.

He's had to stand up today in the House of Commons and not only open the bank statement, but read it out to the entire country. And as you might expect, it's not great news.

Turns out that rather than fixing the roof while the sun was shining, we've actually spent the last six years of austerity living in a tent in the garden during the coldest winter on record.

We used to not have a pot to piss in. We're now so broke we don't even have floorboards to put the pot on. It's no wonder Hammond - who is now second on my list of Hammonds I never want to hear again, between Richard and organ - delivered the news with all the enthusiasm of a lame horse addressing a conference of glue manufacturers.

Tradition in the case of delivering bad economic news is of course to blame the last government, which Hammond did. Or at least, the last Labour government. Would have been awkward otherwise, what with half the last Tory government being sat at the side of him.

Course there's also a new kid on the blame block - Brexit. Turns out that estimating the economic impact of leaving the EU is a bit tricky though, when you don't actually know what Brexit means apart from Brexit. The Office of Budget Responsibility asked the Treasury to do it, and they declined.

Now to me, that means one of two things. Either they genuinely don't know - which is scary enough, given it's their job - or they do know, but the number is so bowel-clenchingly horrific that they don't want to share it.

At least we've "taken back control". The Brexit Bunch have got the Ford Anglia back that the EU stole from them in 1973, albeit the seats have been taken out, the engine doesn't run and it's on fire. Still, they've got their hands back on the steering wheel.

Pity whoever loses the game of rock, paper, scissors at Tory Central Office and ends up having to go defend this shambles on Newsnight. Hammond hasn't so much rearranged the deckchairs on the Titanic as given everyone in steerage a towel and told them not to panic.

It's not so much a statement, as an economic suicide note.

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