Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs from today, on gay rights, older voters and Osborne's tax dodge.

1. Cameron fails to say he's for "gay or straight"

Over at Left Foot Forward, Shamik Das notes that despite the Tories briefing that David Cameron would declare that he was for "gay or straight" in his speech today, the line didn't make it in.

2. Will it be older voters that finally do for Mr Brown?

PoliticalBetting's Mike Smithson reports on a new poll that gives the Tories a 22 per cent lead among the over-55s.

3. Has Osborne kept open the "Geoffrey Howe dodge" on VAT?

The Tory shadow chancellor may have said that he has "no plans" to raise VAT but, says Sunder Katwala, history teaches us to be wary of Tory tax pledges.

4. What happens in wash-up -- and what will happen to the Digital Economy Bill?

Liberal Democrat Voice's Mark Pack looks at the bills that are likely to emerge intact from the "wash-up" period.

5. "The worst government in history"

The Public and Commercial Services union leader Mark Serwotka's description of the Labour government as "the worst in history" deserves a prize for "bone-headed madness", writes John Rentoul.

Sign up now to CommentPlus for the pick of the day's opinion, comment and analysis in your inbox at 8am, every weekday.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Forget gaining £350m a week, Brexit would cost the UK £300m a week

Figures from the government's own Office for Budget Responsibility reveal the negative economic impact Brexit would have. 

Even now, there are some who persist in claiming that Boris Johnson's use of the £350m a week figure was accurate. The UK's gross, as opposed to net EU contribution, is precisely this large, they say. Yet this ignores that Britain's annual rebate (which reduced its overall 2016 contribution to £252m a week) is not "returned" by Brussels but, rather, never leaves Britain to begin with. 

Then there is the £4.1bn that the government received from the EU in public funding, and the £1.5bn allocated directly to British organisations. Fine, the Leavers say, the latter could be better managed by the UK after Brexit (with more for the NHS and less for agriculture).

But this entire discussion ignores that EU withdrawal is set to leave the UK with less, rather than more, to spend. As Carl Emmerson, the deputy director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, notes in a letter in today's Times: "The bigger picture is that the forecast health of the public finances was downgraded by £15bn per year - or almost £300m per week - as a direct result of the Brexit vote. Not only will we not regain control of £350m weekly as a result of Brexit, we are likely to make a net fiscal loss from it. 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."

The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts, to which Emmerson refers, are shown below (the £15bn figure appearing in the 2020/21 column).

Some on the right contend that a blitz of tax cuts and deregulation following Brexit would unleash  higher growth. But aside from the deleterious economic and social consequences that could result, there is, as I noted yesterday, no majority in parliament or in the country for this course. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.