Chancellor Philip Hammond wants us to believe the era of austerity is over.
When he stands up in parliament to deliver his spring statement – expect it to be an update, there won’t be any new policy – he wants to slap Britain on the back: ‘Well done for tightening your belts.’
At the weekend Hammond said: ‘It has been a long road and there is still work to be done, but I am confident that there is light at the end of the tunnel.’
All seems like excellent news, doesn’t it? Don’t expect the government to start splashing the cash though – the debt still needs to be further paid down according to the Chancellor. So it’s jam tomorrow.
But wait … isn’t Hammond forgetting the looming economic disaster of Brexit? The EU’s predictions on the British economy are not quite as rosy as those made by the OBR. A leaked EU paper reads: ‘Economic growth in the UK has slowed markedly since the start of 2017. GDP growth is expected to remain subdued, slowing gradually to 1.3% in 2018 and to 1.1% in 2019.’ And that is before Brexit.
The spring statement will offer no new taxes and no new spending plans. It will also offer nothing to guard against the biggest threat to Britain’s economy – Brexit.