Exclusive -- David Blanchflower: "This MPC is not fit for purpose"

"After the election we are going to have to reconsider who sets monetary policy"

In his economics column for the New Statesman this week, Professor David Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), says "the MPC's days are numbered, certainly in terms of its remit and probably its membership. After the election we are going to have to reconsider who sets monetary policy."

He adds: "The MPC missed the recession entirely . . . The recession was much deeper because of their failure to act. The MPC was asleep at the wheel. Its inability to communicate adequately what quantitative easing is supposed to do suggests it has learned little."

Blanchflower concludes: "This MPC is not fit for purpose and should be disbanded."

Professor Blanchflower also criticises his former colleague on the MPC Andrew Sentance, who has warned in recent days that rake hikes might be imminent: "The first rule, for an MPC member, should be to do no harm. He was the one who throughout 2008 denied there was going to be a recession."

And he dismisses the decision by the Conservative shadow chancellor, George Osborne, to cut public spending within 50 days of any election, saying: "He seems hell-bent on creating the Osborne Dip."

We've published the column online this evening (two days ahead of the magazine hitting the newstands), so go read it now.

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Our new relationship with the EU may be a lot like the old one

For all the tough mood music, Theresa May has left room for concessions.

I'm sad and dismayed, but that's democracy for you.

The Mail is in a cheerier mood. "Freedom!" is their splash. "Dear EU, We're Leaving You" cheers the Express' while "Dear EU, it's time to go" is the Mirror's splash. "Dover & Out!" roars the Sun, who have projected those same words on the white cliffs of, you guessed it, Dover. "May Signs Us Out!" is the Metro's take.

"Brexit begins" is the i's more equivocal splash, "The eyes of history are watching" is the Times' take, while the Guardian opts for "Today Britain steps into the unknown".

The bigger story isn't the letter but its content, which leads the FT: "May signs historic Brexit letter and opens way for compromise". The government is finessing its red line on the competence of the European Court of Justice. (The word in Whitehall is that Theresa May hadn't grasped the importance of the ECJ as an arbitration mechanism after Brexit and for cross-border matters such as flights when she made her conference speech.)  And the PM has done a good job of not ruling out continuing payments to the European Union, her best path to the deal Britain needs.

A lot depends on what happens to the British economy between now and March 2019. The pound is down still further today but whether that's a minor eruption or the start of sustained losses will have significant consequences on how painful Britain's best path to the access we need to the single market - paying over the odds for the parts of membership that the British government wants to keep and swallowing that £50bn divorce bill - is doable or not.

For all the mood music emanating from May, she's quietly done a good job of clearing the obstacles to a deal where Britain controls its own immigration policy, continues to staff Europol and to participate in European-wide research, the bulk of our regulation is set by Brussels de facto if not de jure and we pay, say £250m a week into Brussels.

Our new relationship with the EU may be rather closer to our old one than we currently expect.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.