Opinionomics | 17 April 2012

Must-read comment and analysis. Featuring minimum taxes and money taxes.

1. Inflation shows why it pays to follow Bank of England actions not words (Telegraph)

Ian Cowie points out that the Bank of England's actions – how it runs its pension fund, for instance – explain its attitudes to inflation far better than its words.

2. The Buffett Rule: Right Goal, Wrong Tool (New York Times)

Leonard E. Burman argues that the "Buffett rule" (and, to a certain extent, Osborne's tycoon tax) is a good policy goal, but would be better achieved by tightening loopholes directly

3. Export-led growth is so damn difficult (ToUChstone)

Richard Exell points out how bad our trade deficit is.

4. The buck shrinks here (Economist | Free Exchange)

Ryan Avent takes issue with Matt Yglesias' plan to, in effect, tax money to prevent depressions. His concern isn't with the political angle of it, but the economic.

5. "The Migration Myth" (Economist's View)

Mark Thoma collates some interesting writing on migration.

Argentine president Kirchner holds a sample of petroleum from the fields of renationalised oil company YPF. Credit: Getty

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Michael Heseltine calls for “second referendum or general election” on the Brexit deal

The Tory peer and former deputy prime minister accuses Theresa May of having “flip-flopped” on the “intellectual conviction of the last 70 years of Conservative leadership”.

The Conservative party is deeply divided on the subject of Europe, and I don't see a short-term resolution to that position. I just reread the speech that the Prime Minister made to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers before the referendum. It was thoughtful, careful, balanced, and highly persuasive – arguing that we should remain in Europe.

A few weeks later, Brexit is Brexit. She has apparently changed her mind, and people like me have not. The idea that the intellectual conviction of the last 70 years of Conservative leadership on this subject can be flip-flopped is asking too much of those of us who believe that our self-interest as a nation is inextricably interwoven with our European allies.

I believe that this is the worst peacetime decision that Parliament has been asked to make. It is very possible, as the negotiations unfold, that members of the Conservative Party in the House of Commons who believe as strongly as I do in the Remain argument will feel that their commitment to our national self-interest is being stretched unacceptably.

I know all the lonelinesses of their position. I'm well aware of the herd instinct of party politics. Only on two significant occasions have I worked to change the official policies of the Conservative party. I have no regrets, it didn't actually do me any harm. They have to evaluate the nature of the decision they're being asked to take.

I don't believe any of the arguments that there's a two-year time scale, the guillotine comes down. If there's a will to change within the community of European leaders, change will happen regardless of the letter of the law.

I believe that there needs to be a second referendum or a mandate of a general election. I believe the sovereignty of this country is enshrined in the House of Commons, and that they must be involved in the final decision with absolute power to determine the outcome. It took Nicola Sturgeon a matter of months to be back on the trail of a second referendum and Nigel Farage would have been doing exactly the same if he had lost. So what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. I cast myself in the unlikely role of gander.

[May’s opposition to a Scottish referendum] completely undermines the whole basis for supporting the referendum judgement in the first place, because they weren't in possession of the facts, and so when we are in possession of the facts, it follows there must be a second choice.

Michael Heseltine is a Conservative peer and a former deputy prime minister.

As told to Anoosh Chakelian.

This article first appeared in the 30 March 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Wanted: an opposition