Bad news for Osborne: borrowing is still rising

Despite no shortage of austerity, borrowing in June 2013 was £0.5bn higher than in the same month last year.

There's good and bad news for George Osborne in today's borrowing figures. The good news for the Chancellor is that borrowing for 2012-13 has been revised down from £118.8bn to £116.5bn, £2.1bn lower than in 2011-12, having previously been £0.3bn higher. As a result, he can once again boast that the deficit has fallen "each and every year" under the coalition, a fact crucial to his narrative of 'balancing the books'.

But less happily for Osborne, borrowing in June was £12.4bn, £0.5bn higher than in the same month last year.

So far this financial year, the deficit is £35.9bn, exactly the same level as it was last year. As long as this remains the case, Labour will be able to argue that while there's much pain, there's still little gain.

As for the national debt, which Cameron falsely claimed the government was "paying down", it's now passed the £1.2trn mark (75% of GDP), the highest level since the late 1960s. 

George Osborne walks along The Strand towards a branch of Lloyds bank. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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What did Jeremy Corbyn really say about Bin Laden?

He's been critiqued for calling Bin Laden's death a "tragedy". But what did Jeremy Corbyn really say?

Jeremy Corbyn is under fire for describing Bin Laden’s death as a “tragedy” in the Sun, but what did the Labour leadership frontrunner really say?

In remarks made to Press TV, the state-backed Iranian broadcaster, the Islington North MP said:

“This was an assassination attempt, and is yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy. The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy. Tens of thousands of people have died.”

He also added that it was his preference that Osama Bin Laden be put on trial, a view shared by, among other people, Barack Obama and Boris Johnson.

Although Andy Burnham, one of Corbyn’s rivals for the leadership, will later today claim that “there is everything to play for” in the contest, with “tens of thousands still to vote”, the row is unlikely to harm Corbyn’s chances of becoming Labour leader. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.