New Statesman cover | 7 November 2011

A sneak preview of tomorrow's New Statesman cover.

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You'll notice a few changes when you pick up your latest New Statesman. This week sees the launch of our new Observations section, a series of capsule essays on culture, society and ideas. Inside, Jonathan Derbyshire reviews Jon Cruddas's Attlee Memorial Lecture and that the "Blue Labour" band has reformed, Helen Lewis-Hasteley asks why people won't stop messing with Jane Austen, Michael Brooks explains what nature can teach us about the financial system, and Sophie Elmhirst visits architect Zaha Hadid's inner-city school.

We've also redesigned the back pages, launching new columns on food and drink. Nina Caplan, our new drink critic, will alternate with Felicity Cloake, our new food critic.

All this, plus David Miliband on what he's learned during his time as Labour's universities ambassador, Nicholas Shaxson on why the City of London Corporation is the right target for the protesters, and Imran Khan on Obama's mistakes and why he doesn't fear assassination.

Please do pick up a copy of the magazine (out tomorrow in London and the rest of the country on Friday) and let us know your thoughts.

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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.