The campaign by London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his gullible pals in Parliament and the media to resurrect the idea that leaving the EU will give the UK another £350 million a week to “control” has had a pretty good second innings - until today. This is despite the head of the UK Statistics Authority effectively telling Bozza that his trousers were well alight.
A total Muppet. And Elmo from Sesame Street
And the reason that innings has come to a close is because, as so often with anything to do with the EU, the claim comes up against the unyielding wall of reality. Despite Bozza blustering that he was right all along and deserved an apology (as if), and his pals at the Guido Fawkes blog claiming the UKSA head had messed up (he hadn’t), the fact is that we will not be “taking control” of any more money come Brexit day - quite the opposite.
How so? Well, to answer that question, we need look no further than the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the one body that is beyond reproach when it comes to pitching the numbers on Government finances. The IFS has considered the Government’s own estimates, and concluded that allowances are already being made not for more money as a result of Brexit, but less - a lot less. Their deputy director Carl Emmerson has spelt it out.
“The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts the outlook for the UK economy and the public finances; these forecasts have been adopted by the Chancellor as the Government’s own. They contain an allowance of almost £250 million a week - not £350 million - for funding that could go in principle to the NHS rather than the EU. But this would involve no state support for any other activities, such as subsidies for agriculture, that are at present funded in the UK by the EU”. And there was more.
“The bigger picture is that the forecast health of the public finances was downgraded by £15 billion a year - or almost £300 million a week - as a direct result of the Brexit vote. Not only will we not regain control of £350 million weekly as a result of Brexit, we are likely to make a net fiscal loss from it”. So what of Bozza’s bluster?
“Those are the numbers and forecasts which the Government has adopted. It is perhaps surprising that members of the Government are suggesting rather different figures”.
What Emmerson is suggesting is this: the public finances are likely to suffer a loss of almost £300 million a week, while almost £250 million a week will be available from not paying EU contributions. So we lose around £50 million a week from Brexit.
And that’s before the job losses, the next run on Sterling, the likely fall in the stock market, the looming problem of Northern Ireland and the Irish border, and years in limbo as we try to replace all those EU trade deals we already have with something British.
Bozza’s whole pitch was a pack of lies. Anyone who backed him probably knew it - which makes the shameless cheerleading yet worse - or they were too blinkered to check their facts. Brexit will be a shambles - and it will be very bad indeed for the UK.
Maybe now Bozza and his pals will try sticking to the facts. But then again, maybe not.