Theresa May’s “war cabinet” adjourns without finalising a post-Brexit trade stance.

The Prime Minister chaired an emergency Brexit meeting dubbed the “war cabinet” at number 10 today.

Senior cabinet members, such as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, met to discuss their strategy for post-Brexit trade.
The meeting lasted just a little over one and a half hours long, leaving ministers frustrated as no conclusive decisions were made.

Hard line Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson, and Michael Gove remain at odds with the rest of the cabinet, stressing the UK must “diverge” from the European regulations, as moderates within cabinet (Phillip Hammond/Amber Rudd), lean towards a softer Brexit, where the UK remains aligned with the EU.

This comes just days after the EU, again, warned the UK will not be able to select which parts of the EU they want in a “Buffet style” trade deal. Mr Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, told Prospect magazine:
“They have to realise there won’t be any cherry picking. We won’t mix up the various scenarios to create a specific one and accommodate their wishes, mixing, for instance, the advantages of the Norwegian model, member of the single market, with the simple requirements of the Canadian one. No way. They have to face the consequences of their own decision.”

Theresa May also faces increased pressure from her own backbenches, as the ten MP’s dubbed mutineers by The Daily Telegraph, earlier today, urged the PM to reach out to Labour Party moderates, bypassing leader Jeremy Corbyn, to form a cross party coalition with the aim of delivering a softer Brexit.

May updated the house today on what seems to be little progress on Brexit. Further urgent meetings of the so-called war cabinet are scheduled for next week.

How the crises in western politics are strengthening China’s autocracy

As 2017 now draws to a close, one’s reflection on current political events might be somewhat bitter and pessimistic. 2016 and 2017 have been years of political consequence, what with the Brexit vote which led to the change in Tory power from David Cameron to Theresa May and the ensuing consequences that leaving the European Union would have on the UK and the rest of Europe, the highly contentious American election which led to the rise of Donald Trump as its 45th President and the implementation of all his controversial policies, the Catalunyan referendum which saw unprecedented levels of violence and tension between Madrid and Barcelona in the history of Spain.

I think most people would agree that western politics is not in a good place right now, and the disheartening thing is that the Europeans and Americans very much brought these troubles to themselves since all these political decisions were the results of countrywide voting and general elections. If one is trying to point fingers, the Westerners may only have themselves to blame, and the culprits, whether it be the Brexiteers/Remainers, Trump supporters/haters and pro-Catalan independistas/Madridistas, count in millions and represent big sections of the population.

It is impossible to pin these troubles down on a single person or a group of people, and if one is trying to put an end to the story by bringing the culprits to justice, one is talking about civil war. Western democracy has tied itself in a knot, which is hardly the image that Western countries want to project to the rest of the world.

For over a century, western powers have prided themselves in being the beacons of democratic values and the champions of human civil rights, yet their recent turmoils perhaps do not support their case that their political system (liberal democracy or sorts in the US, UK and Spain) is the stablest and the best model to have. This is exactly how the Chinese central government have reacted to the West, with the end of justifying their autocratic, one-party rule. As is well-known, Modern China has a funny mixture of political ideologies (which goes to show how simplistic political theories, especially Marxist ones, can be, useful though they may be), since although its sovereign party is called the Chinese Communist Party and is the sole legitimate political party in the whole of China, it has a very dynamic and flourishing market economy that is very active on the global market. China’s economy has been the fastest-growing economy in modern times and is rapidly becoming the world’s biggest economy (tied head-to-head with the US economy). It might even become the financial basis for future investors throughout the world, which explains why Westerners are taking an increasingly strong interest in all things Chinese, as can be seen in Donald Trump’s granddaughter’s impeccable pronunciation of Mandarin on the US President’s latest visit to Beijing.

There is no questioning of China’s economic potential and its emergence as a global superpower, what with its huge population, resources and general enthusiasm in world economy, which has dramatically improved its relations with the rest of the world. It is easy to forget and hard to imagine that half a century ago in China’s early Communist days it was a secluded state with state-owned economy and a major player in the Communist bloc who were sworn enemies to Western capitalism in the Cold War (indeed, it even locked fire and arms with the US in the Korean War and helped secure North Korea as an independent state). However, there is also no questioning that China is not a democratic state in a political sense. Its leaders and party members are elected not through democratic voting but via political and family connections, and there have been numerous incidents where the central government have crushed using military force any protest or call for democracy that has threatened its power and authority (1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre being the most infamous example that still stains China’s record on human rights, global reputation and internal politics, as 4th June, the day the Beijing government opened fire at the protestors in Tiananmen Square and caused thousands of deaths and casualties, is annually ‘celebrated’ by all citizens as some kind of national mourning day).

Those who dream of a democratic revolution in China in the form of the Russian Revolution in 1917, which happened twelve years after a very similar shooting outside the Tsar’s palace in 1905, will be disappointed at the lack of progress in this regard, since there seems to be no letting-up for democracy, political freedom or freedom of expression in China, as seen in the recent house arrests of several political activists, and even in areas where Beijing’s iron fist has less control, democracy is still far from reach, as seen in the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement (2014-) which has been forcefully crushed, made no constitutional impact whatsoever, and has even had its main players (e.g. the 18 y.o. Joshua Wong) incarcerated for civil unrest. Democracy is a frequently debated issue in China, and the latest response from the Party Chairman Xi Jinping is sterner than ever as in his speech in the most recent Party Congress (October 2017) he has cited the current crises in western Europe and America as justification for NOT instilling political freedom in China, alleging that introducing multi-party politics now would only cause chaos and anarchy, ‘as seen in the recent Brexit vote in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in America’. It is a shrewd move for him as a politician to seize on recent events and use them to his advantage, but utterly disappointing for those who fight for political freedom and civil rights in a country that is so prominent in contemporary world politics but has such a poor record in treating its citizens (politically).

Where do we go from here? As with all freedom fighters, one might wonder as to how to pressure the Beijing government into relenting to gentler measures or, if one dreams of being a superhero in the mould of V in ‘V for Vendetta‘, how to defeat them in a revolutionary style.

Keeping the latter option in one’s imagination (though it may be possible), the former is probably more likely and hence worth considering. If one is thinking of foreign intervention in forcing China’s hand, this is verging on impossible, since there is little possibility that China could be forced either economically or politically into making such concessions when its global position is currently so strong. North Korea is the recent victim (and rightly so) of international sanctions and foreign pressure, which may well end up changing the regime and resulting in a long overdue reunification of the two Koreas, yet such tactics could hardly be used on China, given that severing economic ties would only hurt the rest of the world.

Using military force is also unlikely to yield positive results, as China’s military might is only second to the US who cannot possibly bully China in the same way that their joint drills with South Korea have provoked the North Korean government. Pressure from below is also an option, though a highly risky one given the amount of control and censorship the current government seeks to impose on its citizens. Also, with China’s economy flourishing at such an exponential rate, economic stability seems to be relatively accessible for most people in China who would hardly sacrifice that for regime change, especially if it threatens their livelihood. Perhaps wariness of China’s undemocratic policies should have been realized at the beginning of its capitalist revolution in the 1970s when the Western powers (especially the US, then led by President Jimmy Carter who welcomed on home soil the then Party Chairman and sole instigator of Chinese capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, who was also responsible for the Tiananmen Square Massacre and was as paradoxical as China is today) should have tried to curb its autocracy as part of the deal of entering into trading relations with it.

Unfortunately, that possibility is now long gone and one is faced with this giant economic juggernaut that is so important to the rest of the world yet whose policies are not what its people (or the rest of the world) want. The Chinese central government is now at an excellent position to exert its influence not only on its citizens but also on the rest of the world, and there may be no holding them back which may spell the end of democracy in China. I still believe that foreign intervention is the likelier scenario, but first the Western countries need to sort themselves out, which is another long(ist) battle.

Government defeated in Brexit vote

The government has suffered a humiliating defeat today, as MP’s voted to support an amendment which would offer a ‘meaningful vote’ at the end of Brexit negotiations.

The defeat comes just hours before the Prime Minister is set to attend a European Council meeting in Brussels, leaving many to question her ability to command the support of her party and secure a good deal for the United Kingdom. Loud cheers and claps could be heard echoing through the chamber as it was announced that the government had been defeated by 309 votes to 305, the first proper defeat faced by Theresa May in the Commons since the Snap Election earlier this year.

It is fair to say that the Daily Mail were not pleased with the votes result, producing this frankly ridiculous front page.
Jeremy Corbyn has claimed that this was an ‘humiliating loss of authority’ for the Prime Minister. He continued to claim that ‘Theresa May has resisted democratic accountability. Her refusal to listen means she will now have to accept parliament taking back control.’

Bitter hostilities have began to emerge within the Conservative Party. Stephen Hammond, one of the twelve Conservative rebels, has since been sacked as Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party. Whilst the DUP remained loyal with all 10 MP’s voting against the amendment.

A fight to evict the Royals: Britain’s rising Republican movement

Guess who’s not invited to the Royal wedding.

Why is it so unheard of to be a republican in Britain? We aren’t exactly a country in love with bureaucracy – Brexit.
Author of Down with the Royals, Joan Smith, certainly doesn’t understand. “I grew up in a working-class northern family. I have always hated the idea of inherited privilege,” she explained. Joan and her group of distant campaigners envision a future without King or Queen and they aim to find support in a new generation.

This year Queen Elizabeth II tuned 91, continuing her reign as the world’s longest serving Head of State, the term reserved for a country’s chief public representative, the effective head of government. In presidential countries like America this would be the President, the most powerful official. Explaining her disdain for the royals, Ms Smith added: “It seems bizarre this one family has the exclusive right to produce our heads of state. Our next three will all be white, male, middle-class and Christian. A bunch of people who can’t possibly represent the country.”

The Queen may be our Head of State, but she is also the head of a constitutional monarchy. Meaning she reigns but does not rule, and in fact has very little power. Decisions on policy and legislation are left to the government. These days the role of Monarch is very much a symbolic one.

Although many, including Dr Martin Farr, of Newcastle University, believe the Queen doesn’t need actual legislative power to affect our lives, he said: “people may feel that she contributes to the hierarchical nature of British society.” Farr, who earlier this year unveiled Princess Eugenie was initially rejected by Newcastle University, until an admissions officer realised her royal connection, insists his statements were overblown, but republican campaigners seized upon them. Judy Mercer, of Republic, an anti-monarchist organisation with over 30,000 supporters, said: “We pay for a very very rich and privileged royal family, their extended family members and all of their security.”

Well, she’s sort of right. Until 2011 calculating the Royal income was an unnecessarily complicated process, involving several different grants and stipends. Now Royal funds are distributed via one solitary payment called the sovereign grant, which does consist of contributions from tax payers, as well as the personal income of the Royal family. It was reported in 2016 that Prince Charles earned over £20 million from his private estate, The Duchy of Cornwall. Though the Queen does, voluntarily, pay income tax on all profits from the Privy Purse – the account which holds income from the Duchy of Lancaster, the reigning Monarch’s private and extensive rural estate.

Much of the Republican movement has now moved online. A strategic decision to connect with a younger generation.
Mrs Mercer added: “The palace is using the two young princes to keep younger generations engaged, ultimately it is this new generation who will be suffering further inequality and Republic’s job is to highlight the connection with the Royal family.”

Undeterred by the odds, they have hope in the future. Leading online campaigner Revolting-Subject, who upholds his anonymity due to a career in broadcast journalism, said: “Prince Charles looks like a disaster waiting to happen, so I have high hopes there.”

Trump blunder further undermines May

This week it was Trump’s turn to add further strain on the “Special relationship”, with the President choosing retweet 3 videos from the fringe far-right Britain First group that claimed to show Muslim youths committing acts of violence. Once again it displayed his penchant for rash, badly thought out actions, leaving his spokespeople to clean up his mess.

Besides the fact that the videos are of dubious provenance (the Dutch Embassy confirming that one of the perpetrators wasn’t a migrant as claimed), Trump’s actions do nothing other than incite hatred. Irrespective of the content of the video, by posting isolated incidents of cruelty without context with captions of “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!”, the tweets only motive is evidently to increase anti-Islam sentiment and preach hate, the opposite of what any US president should be doing.

Moreover by having the President of the United States retweet content from Britain First, he has given the small extremist nationalistic group (that was formed by extremist outcasts from the BNP) an enormous level of free publicity. As a result, news channels are forced to talk about them thus further increasing their public exposure. This was just about the best outcome Britain First could have envisaged. Rather ironically in their posting of explicit, violent videos such as “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!”, they are not dissimilar from their Islamic extremist groups they so vehemently claim to oppose.

However the biggest impact from Trump’s myopic actions are by far the effect it has on Theresa May. Ever since Trump was elected, May has been trying desperately to attract his favour and thus strengthen Britain’s relationship with America in the post-Brexit world. She was the first foreign leader to visit Trump in the White House, only 7 days after his inauguration. Even after Trump’s numerous blatant violations of ‘British values’ such as in the Muslim Ban in January, May refused to condemn Trump’s actions until pressure finally forced her to concede that Number 10 “didn’t agree” with America’s “approach”.

Thomas Mair, the murderer of British MP Jo Cox, shouted “Britain First” repeatedly as he shot and stabbed her. This coupled with the inflammatory content Trump posted meant May would have no choice, but to post a serious rebuke. She was joined by a multitude of figures across every mainstream party as well as religious figures such as the Chief Rabbi and Archbishop of Canterbury.

Despite the strong response from May, Trump refused to back down and as he always does, he took May’s comments as a personal attack, issuing an angry response-
“Don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom”.

In doing so, Trump knowingly undermined May’s position. In the position that she is in regarding Brexit, May has to maintain a friendly relationship with Trump, however his inflammatory retweets and unrepentant behaviour has crossed a clear red line.

If she asks the Queen to cancel the state visit or to not invite him to Prince Harry’s wedding, she would involve the Royal Family in politics and incense Trump personally, thus jeopardising their relationship. If she does nothing, coupled with her previous insipid responses to the almost universally reviled Trump, she will look even weaker. If a post-Brexit Britain is going to force us to suck up to other leaders such as Trump in order to get trade agreements, maybe Brexit won’t allow for a renaissance by unshackling us diplomatically from the tyranny of Europe after all?

As a result, May has been forced to walk this tightrope that Trump has knowingly presented with her. However, luckily for her, as seen with Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian PM, who had a diplomatic spat with Trump regarding a migrant deal regarding asylum seekers on Australian islands such as Nauru, overtime Trump is capable of softening his stance. Regardless, this twitter spat has both angered Britain and harmed the relationship between May and Trump, doing no good for either leader during a time when both of them are sorely in need of allies. However I wouldn’t be surprised if by next week everybody has forgotten this incident, but for the wrong reasons.

5 Graphs that show how bad the Tories have been for our economy

In our media it is mainstream thought that the Tories have run our economy with care, and that they are a much safer pair of hands than Corbyn and McDonnell. In polls regarding the running of the economy, Theresa May & Philip Hammond poll at 36% whilst Jeremy Corbyn & John McDonnell poll at 28%. This is a baffling statistic. In economic circles it is common knowledge that Austerity is a terrible economic policy, yet that information has not been distributed among the people.

GDP per capita growth
Gross Domestic Product per capita is slightly crude way of looking at the wealth of the nation, it is simply GDP divided by population. However examining this can track the growth of an economy. And whilst the Tories have resided over economic growth it is not impressive. The graph below tracks GDP per capita growth scaled in the first 7 year of their administration. To compare the two parties handling of the economy, I have scaled the GDP per capita they received in their first year in office to one and tracked the growth from that figure. We can see a distinct difference between a government that invests, and a government that does not.

Wage growth
This is the true measure of growth in the economy; how the everyday man and woman has done. The policy of austerity has been terrible for the every day Brit. In the graph below is real wage growth, so inflation has been taken into account. We can clearly see the drop due to the economic crash in 2008, but after that we can see a 2nd drop: the impact of austerity. The drop in investment and pay freezes cause the slow and gradual decline in wages. The 2nd drop we can see in 2017 is the impact that Brexit has had on the economy, not helped by tory policy which is causing wages to decline. If, and this is a very big if, the economic forecasts hold true we will finally recover from the financial crash in 2025.

The real hard hitting point of all this is that we are alone in suffering. We are the only country that has seen economic growth yet real wages decline. When you actually think about what that means it’s sickening. All of us in this country are working harder, causing the growth, but taking home less money. Talk about a stitch up. We have the 2nd worst economic performance in Europe, only Greece has outdone us in economic failure. Again we can see the difference between investment and austerity.

The debt
However the main Tory promise was debt reduction, a task that they have not only failed at but failed monumentally. This Tory government has borrowed more than every single previous Labour government combined. This government has increased the debt, as austerity has depressed wages and with that revenue from taxes.

The global economic crisis increased our debt not the Labour government. The Conservative government are increasing the debt now more than Labour did in economic good times. Labour did not overspend, even George Osbourne admitted he would have done similar to Labour in the wake of the economic crisis. Conveniently, for the tories, most of the press have neglected to inform the public about this. It was borrow, or watch the financial sector crumble and as much as I am not a fan of bankers, if that sector went down it would lead to chaos.

The Future
The long term economic plan that Cameron’s Tory party often talked about is not going to produce a bright future for the many. We can see what austerity has done for our growth forecasts. We now face the worse economic forecast since 1983.

In the first half of 2017 we had the worst growth in the EU. Our economy only managed a measly 0.5%. Germany and France had growth at 1.2% and 1% respectively. Both Brexit and Austerity is killing our economic growth. This is the future we face.
Our economic performance has been terrible, the 2nd worst in Europe since the Great Recession. We are meant to be a global powerhouse but we can’t even feed our own people. And the Tories are partly, if not mostly, to blame.

Hard Brexit is a dramatic threat to worker’s rights says Labour’s leader in European Parliament

In my first interview with Richard Corbett MEP before the referendum, the then deputy leader of the European parliamentary Labour party, stated the European parliament was no gentleman’s club, nor a burden on British taxpayer. Now we are heading for the door Corbett warns that each family may be £3000 worse of per month, and our workers’ rights are under threat.

Mr Corbett is now Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, a role that sees him representing the collective views of Labour MEPS, and also allows him a seat in the Shadow Cabinet and on the Labour party’s NEC.
I asked him this week, on the potential impact of a No deal Brexit, and whether it was better than a bad deal. He warned that “If we leave without a deal there will be legal limbo for all kinds of things, ranging from aircraft landing rights to the rights of EU citizens living in Britain and Brits living in the EU. It would mean World Trade Organisation tariffs on goods traded and a loss of access to EU markets for services. Concluding “A no deal Brexit must be avoided”.

Corbett sees Brexit as a threat to hard won workers’ rights. He agrees with former Tory Chancellor Kenneth Clarke that some Conservative ministers are not overly keen on worker’s rights and believes the right wing leavers in the Conservative party are very keen to diminish worker’s rights in the UK and see Brexit as a method to achieve this.
There has been much talk of hard Brexit (and soft Brexit), and Mr Corbett gave clear definitions for both terms. Describing Hard Brexit as leaving not just the EU but also the European single market and the customs union.
A soft Brexit would probably entail leaving the EU, but staying in the single market and the customs union. Corbett stated the single market is core to protecting workers right saying “the Eurpopean single market has rules to protect consumers, workers and the environment. They could be better, but their very existence is why the neo-liberal right dislike the EU”.

Corbett said the debate before the referendum lacked honesty. Going on to say the leave campaigners themselves say they would not have won without the £350 million a week for the NHS on the infamous bus, amongst other lies.
He says already the loss to the economy, due to the fall in the economic growth rate since the referendum, will amount to £65 billion by 2021. The UK government will also have to fund new bodies such as agencies to regulate medicines and chemicals, and fund customs checks, should we leave the customs union.

The prime minister and the foreign secretary seem to have differing opinions on when freedom of movement (FOM) will end. However Mr Corbett insists that those who think that immigration levels are too high are wrong to attribute this to freedom of movement. “Most migrants to Britain come from outside the EU, entirely under our national rules, not EU rules.” He says, “As to EU freedom of movement, it is two-way, with nearly 1.2 million Brits in other EU countries. It is also not an unconditional right: you have to move for work or be self-sufficient. Britain has never fully enforced these conditions. In any case, EU migrants in Britain pay their way: they pay over one-third more in taxes than they receive in benefits and services, so they help pay for the NHS, schools etc.”.

On enshrining a Brexit date in law, as was recently suggested he said ” Why bind your hands in advance when you don’t know what the state of play will be at the end of the negotiations? Why make it illegal to have any flexibility on the date?”

RBS privatisation will lose taxpayer £26 billion

The chancellor has put a March 2019 deadline on selling the Royal Bank of Scotland. If the government sells it’s shares at their current price the taxpayer will have made a £26 Billion loss.

Why you might ask?

Corruption. Sorry, there is no other explanation.

RBS, this year, made half year profits of £939 million despite it’s £396 million legal costs due to it’s mis-selling of mortgages in the run up to the financial crash.

The Royal bank of Scotland has yet to post a profit in the last 9 years, yet now the government might see some returns on their (our) investment, it has decided to sell the shares in the bank. Discarding any future profits that would help the treasury and making a £26 billion loss.

The government acquired it’s 72% stake in a £45.5 billion bailout in 2008. Since then the bank has yet to post a profit, except for the first half of 2017.

This might show how completely incompetent Phillip Hammond is as chancellor, selling a profit making business for a loss. But they did exactly the same with Lloyds. Socialising the losses made by the bank after the financial crisis, but excluding the people from enjoying the fruits of their 2008 ‘investment’ once it became profitable again. We could keep our stakes in these banks and use them to fund public services or lower taxes. The difference is they made a slight gain on the Lloyds purchase, even though they could of increased their profits by keeping the 2nd most profitable bank in the UK in public ownership longer.

But incompetence is probably not the reason Hammond is selling RBS, he did study PPE at Oxford so clearly isn’t stupid. The truth is far worse. Corruption. The now profit making bank that will be sold by the government dirt cheap is a tasty investment for a number of economic elites, many of which contribute to the Conservative party. This is a perfect demonstration of the hypocrisy of big business. When times are good they beat the drum for capitalism and look down on anyone suggesting socialist policy, yet when they deliberately exploit their customers trust and inevitably fail, they rely on tax payer money? It seems once again, they are going to get away with socialising their debts, and at the first glace of profitability excluding the people that saved them from complete devastation.
What other reason would our government have for selling when we will make a huge loss?

To sum up. We’re selling a profit making public institution, making a £26 billion loss on our investment, so some rich people can get richer. It’s a disgrace.

The bank is set to move jobs abroad to Amsterdam after Brexit. We could stop this if we kept our stake.
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The Tory budget: Too little, too late

The Tory Budget, tackled section by section

Let us begin with Stamp Duty….not a lot to say here. It’s a nice move with good intentions: to benefit first time buyers who inevitably have lower incomes. However, we are faced with a housing crisis. That crisis consists of two things:

  1. Lack of houses/not enough being built
  2. High house prices

Is this move going to solve either of those? No, it will not (indeed there is a suggestion that this will increase house prices). But it is certainly a step in the right direction; making it easier to buy your first house. 9/10 for good intentions. 4/10 for positive impact. We would have been naive to expect much more from the Tories in terms of resolving the housing crisis.

Moreover, giving councils the ability to charge 100% council tax on empty properties is another empty move; if you can afford to own an empty house, you can afford to pay the council tax on it. Why not use some government intervention to disincentivize owning multiple homes, thus increasing the supply of homes without having to build anymore. Or why not build enough affordable homes so that all those that need them can afford them?

Moving onto National Living Wage. We see a nice increase here. A Tory theme; nice idea, but it’s not really going to help. A 33p increase per hour is hardly ground breaking, but still, 10/10 for effort. Again it’s a watered down Labour policy lacking guts.

Growth forecast is down, this shouldn’t surprise us. This is arguably the ‘Brexit effect’, although the UK has seen depressing growth forecasts for many years before Brexit. For those who believe the poor economic growth is down to the government, let me give you some A Level economic theory. There is a school of thought that suggests that each nations’ economy has a ceiling. It will only ever be so strong. We have seen the UK’s economic growth slow in the past decade; there are those who believe that is because we are reaching the limit in terms of the size of our economy, whereas a nation such as China that has a far higher year on year growth, still has plenty of growing to do before it too reaches its limit. I’m not saying I support this argument, but it’s an effective evaluation of poor growth forecasts. Saying this UK is the worst-performing advanced economy in the world this year. Brexit really has caused a downturn, and the chancellor has set aside £3 billion to cope with the Brexit problem.

The state of borrowing:
To explain this, I am first going to provide another A Level economics chain of argument: borrowing money (which both Labour and Tory governments do), is a form of austerity. Let me explain. When a government borrows money, it pays back debt interest on that borrowed money. That means that every year until the government pays back that chunk of money in full, the economy is suffering in the short term. Let’s have a hypothetical example. A government somehow manages to borrow £100bn. In the short term, they would have a lot of money to play with, and would suddenly be able to fix our beloved NHS, end austerity, and cut income tax for the poorest in our society. In the longer term (15 – 20 years) this would be disastrous. The debt interest on that £100bn would accumulate, and eventually, the lovely little pie chart we get each year on where our taxes go, would be full of one thing: debt interest. It should be noted that each year, the government HAS to pay this back, and they’re not actually cancelling any of the debt; they’re merely cancelling the interest that they have accumulated on that debt. They pay it back in the knowledge that the following year, the debt interest will be a little bit more.

With that in mind, the Tories have committed to borrowing less, which we like, but instead of borrowing money from banks, why not get charming individuals like Lord Ashcroft to pay their tax. As a result, we’ll have to borrow less money, which means less debt interest to come and bite us in 10 years’ time. For those Corbyn supporters out there, I remind you that solving austerity by borrowing more money is a short term solution. In the long term, it simply leads to more austerity, unless you invest it properly.

Another socialist school of thought argue that taxes on the rich should be higher, thus raising more money that we can use to improve the welfare of those worst off in our society. However, I present you with an interesting economic diagram. Behold the Laffa Curve.

It argues that there becomes a point when tax (whether it be corporation or income) should not be raised further, because doing so will decrease tax revenue. Time for another extreme example. Say the government raised corporation tax to 90%. Would that lead to a huge increase in tax revenue? No, because the vast majority of firms and businesses would simply jump ship, and stop operating in the UK, or find a way to optimize or even avoid their tax liability. Increasing the tax rate beyond a certain point does not lead to increased revenue, because corporations and firms alike will find a way of avoiding said tax.

Now the Laffa Curve certainly does need evaluating; it was conceived to justify Reagan’s huge cut in top level income tax, a move that was disastrous for the US’s budget deficit.

Other key points: some nice moves to address issues with welfare and pensions, but as ever, is it enough to make a difference to peoples’ lives? Perhaps not.

£2.8bn more for the NHS: this falls short of what the NHS needs, but again, a good move, and a step in the right direction. [id1] More money is needed for our NHS, but this is a good move, and will make a difference. Labour’s promise to fund our NHS in the last election. They pledged £37bn over 5 years; the issue however is they intended to fund it with ‘capital borrowing and tax increases’. Capital borrowing, as we have discussed can be problematic in the long term.

No mention of HS2, or a 3rd runway at Heathrow. One word on large infrastructure projects in the UK; as a society, we suffer from Nimbyism (Not In My Back Yard….ism). China is a nation with many flaws. But they get stuff done. When they decide to build an airport, they choose a location, give those who will have to leave their homes some money, and then build the airport. From mentioning building the airport to the first plane landing in 10 years at most. They get stuff done, and it’s good for their economy. In the UK, it has taken us 3 decades to get anywhere near building a new runway. Obviously, we shouldn’t be like China, but nimbyism is hypocritical; I’d love another runway so I can go on holiday quicker and for less money, but just don’t build it near my house.

Parting remarks; a solid 6/10 for effort from the Tories today. However, much of what has been announced will have a minimal impact. As others have said, the theme of the budget is ‘too little, too late’. The budget isn’t a ‘total disaster’ as I’ve seen some people argue, but nor does it ‘build a Britain fit for the future’ as the Tories are arguing. For those Labour MPs who have shouted it down, whilst of course I agree it isn’t ideal, and there are areas that need more money (the NHS), and areas that have been cut that shouldn’t have been cut (the Single Intelligence Account and the Foreign Office), I question to what extent Labour’s current economic plan would be able to provide a better budget. Labour need to up their game, and I’m willing them on.

Brexit Negotiations Hit A Dead End

Martin Luther King once said, “there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”. I wonder if Theresa May and her cabinet deep inside know this is the time to start to position themselves for real and for once listen to other voices more than their own. We all have this sense of ambiguous calm regarding Brexit. The world hasn’t ended just yet and we are struggling with the same issues as before the Referendum. There has not been that massive Armageddon the pessimists were so adamant to predict. We all live in a Brexit denial. Denial for those who feel leaving the EU can’t come soon enough and for those who are spending a great amount of time holding on to the hopeless hope that Brexit can still be stopped.
This period all the way to Christmas will be crucial to determine the impact Brexit will inflict on the UK and in the EU territories, but I am afraid this Government needs to admit the mess they are in before any more progress can be made. May’s party is in turmoil and her cabinet cannot even agree on the only 3 things that both sides of the divorce are really keen on sorting out as soon as possible: how much the separation is going to cost, citizen’s rights, and Northern Ireland. May has promised to pay some money but refuses to give a final figure until the negotiations progress into trade talks. Unfortunately for the PM, failure to specify now how much and how the UK is going to settle its payments will be catastrophic. Brexit will stop being a pantomime to become an an extremely serious business and once we reach that point there will be no more living in denial for all of us. Damage will start.
As we have seen in Catalunya, just the thought of not being part of the EU if independence succeeded was enough to make almost 2000 businesses of all sizes to move to Spain. The impact was felt immediately. A messy and disorganised exit from the EU will have a similar effect in the UK. Instead of minimising the impact of Brexit you will get the opposite effect, multiplying the damage. It is beyond belief the current Government hasn’t explained with real figures the economical impact Brexit will have in a deal or in a no deal situation. The EU has been working on the 2020 budget because they know their losses after the UK leaves. Exactly 10,000 million of euros less every year. Give or take 16% less resources available for their regional programs. They are in no denial of the difficult times ahead. There is team called ‘Brexit preparedness group’ studying and preparing for the bumpy road ahead after the UK exit. Meanwhile what has this Government been doing? Rebelling against each other whilst promising us a land of opportunity and hope.
We are at a dead end. The EU is not bluffing. At the beginning of December Mrs May needs to send back Mr Davis to Brussels with a bit more than words of good will. The EU might have not been saying it out loud, but what they really want to know is what the UK Government expects to get from Brexit, because to negotiate everything to remain almost the same, it makes people wonder why leave then? We are leaving, on the 29th March 2019. A date that makes Brexit as inevitable as death or taxes. No vote on the parliament can change that date which makes any debate on the deal a slightly pointless one. With a deal or without one we can only hope the Government’s vision for the country Is as full of detail and contingency plans as it is full of dreams and exciting possible enterprise. Gandhi said, “the future depends on what you do today”, well at this moment in time seeing what this government is doing I rather stay in this limbo for a little bit longer.