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It’s time Philip Hammond came clean about the financial damage he knows Brexit will do

Here’s what the Chancellor should say when delivering his Spring Statement today.

With the Spring Statement coming up on Tuesday, it seems like now would be a good time for the Chancellor and the government he represents to finally be honest with us all about the costs of the hard Brexit path they are pursuing.

Here’s my suggestion for what he should say:

“Mr Speaker, I report today on an economy that we are actively choosing to sabotage. Indeed, we may be the first British government in history to be pursuing a path we know will make everyone in this country worse-off.

“The publication of our secret Brexit impact analysis demonstrates this basic fact beyond any reasonable doubt: we are sure that leaving the single market and customs union will create new barriers to trade, will damage businesses across the country and will cost an untold number of jobs.

“But we are going to do it anyway, because we’re terrified of the fanatical anti-European members of our own party. It’s true that leaving the single market and customs union were not necessary consequences of the EU referendum result: we know that the Vote Leave campaign actively attempted to muddy the waters about whether a vote to leave the EU would also mean leaving the single market. And we know there are examples of countries outside the EU who are in the single market, such as Norway, or who are in a customs union with the EU, like Turkey.

“And it’s not just in the future that Brexit will hurt the economy: it is already doing huge damage right now. The Governor of the Bank of England has calculated it is costing us £200m a week in lost growth. Inflation is well above the 2 per cent target, meaning real wages are falling. Our economy has gone from the fastest growing in the G7 to last place, lagging in the global slow lane.

“In order to keep backbenchers like Jacob Rees-Mogg happy, this government is pursuing an act of economic self-harm that should be electoral suicide. But we think we’ll get away with it, because the leadership of the opposition aren’t actually opposing us leaving the single market.

“Odd, considering the overwhelming majority of Labour party supporters and members think that’s a bad idea. But we thank our lucky stars because we'd never get the policy through if they changed their minds.

“So onward we’ll trudge, towards the cliff-edge, firmly insisting that the ‘will of the people’ means we can’t turn back. Even though we know that many of the areas that voted to leave the EU will be the hardest hit by the consequences of this government’s decisions. Even though we know that young people, who’ll have to live with those consequences the longest, overwhelmingly voted against Brexit.

“But that’s why I think it’s important to be honest with people about the costs of Brexit. Everyone has the right to know what crashing out of the single market and customs union will mean for their local area, for their job, for their children’s future. Remember: everyone has the right to change their mind on Brexit, if they want to. And with that, I commend this statement to the House.”

Wes Streeting is Labour MP for Ilford North, member of the Treasury Select Committee and a leading supporter of Open Britain

Photo: Getty
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Michael Carrick is the “Geordie Pirlo” that England misunderstood

The Manchester United legend’s retirement announcement should leave Three Lions fans wondering what if?

That it came in the months leading up to a World Cup arguably added an exclamation point to the announcement of Michael Carrick’s impending retirement. The Manchester United midfielder, who is expected to take up a coaching role with the club afterwards, will hang up his boots at the end of the season. And United boss Jose Mourinho’s keenness to keep Carrick at Old Trafford in some capacity only serves to emphasise how highly he rates the 36-year-old.

But Carrick’s curtain call in May will be caveated by one striking anomaly on an otherwise imperious CV: his international career. Although at club level Carrick has excelled – winning every top tier honour a player based in England possibly can – he looks set to retire with just 34 caps for his country, and just one of those was earned at a major tournament.

This, in part, is down to the quality of competition he has faced. Indeed, much of the conversation around England’s midfield in the early to mid-noughties centred on finding a system that could accommodate both box-to-box dynamos Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

As time went on, however, focus shifted towards trequartistas, advanced playmakers and those with more mobile, harrying playing styles. And the likes of Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley, Jordan Henderson and Dele Alli were brought into the frame more frequently than Carrick, whose deep-lying capabilities were not utilised to their full potential. That nearly 65 per cent of Carrick’s England caps have come in friendlies shows how undervalued he was. 

In fairness, Carrick does not embody similar characteristics to many of his England midfield contemporaries, including a laudable lack of ego. He is not blessed with lung-busting pace, nor is he enough of a ball-winner to shield a back four solo. Yet his passing and distribution satisfy world-class criteria, with a range only matched, as far as England internationals go, by his former United team-mate Paul Scholes, who was also misused when playing for his country.

Rather, the player Carrick resembles most isn’t English at all; it’s Andrea Pirlo, minus the free-kicks. When comparisons between the mild-mannered Geordie and Italian football’s coolest customer first emerged, they were dismissed in some quarters as hyperbole. Yet watching Carrick confirm his retirement plans this week, perfectly bearded and reflecting on a trophy-laden 12-year spell at one of world football’s grandest institutions, the parallels have become harder to deny.

Michael Carrick at a press event ahead of Manchester United's Champions League game this week. Photo: Getty.

Where other players would have been shown the door much sooner, both Pirlo and Carrick’s efficient style of play – built on patience, possession and precision – gifted them twilights as impressive as many others’ peaks. That at 36, Carrick is still playing for a team in the top two of the top division in English football, rather than in lower-league or moneyed foreign obscurity, speaks volumes. At the same age, Pirlo started for Juventus in the Champions League final of 2015.

It is ill health, not a decline in ability, which is finally bringing Carrick’s career to a close. After saying he “felt strange” during the second-half of United’s 4-1 win over Burton Albion earlier this season, he had a cardiac ablation procedure to treat an irregular heart rhythm. He has since been limited to just three more appearances this term, of which United won two. 

And just how key to United’s success Carrick has been since his £18m signing from Tottenham in 2006 cannot be overstated. He was United’s sole signing that summer, yielding only modest excitement, and there were some Red Devils fans displeased with then manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to assign Carrick the number 16 jersey previously worn by departed captain Roy Keane. Less than a year later, though, United won their first league title in four years. The following season, United won the league and Champions League double, with Carrick playing 49 times across all competitions.

Failing to regularly deploy Carrick in his favoured role – one that is nominally defensive in its position at the base of midfield, but also creative in providing through-balls to the players ahead – must be considered one of the most criminal oversights of successive England managers’ tenures. Unfortunately, Carrick’s heart condition means that current boss Gareth Southgate is unlikely to be able to make amends this summer.

By pressing space, rather than players, Carrick compensates for his lack of speed by marking passing channels and intercepting. He is forever watching the game around him and his unwillingness to commit passes prematurely and lose possession is as valuable an asset as when he does spot an opening.

Ultimately, while Carrick can have few regrets about his illustrious career, England fans and management alike can have plenty. Via West Ham, Spurs and United, the Wallsend-born émigré has earned his billing as one of the most gifted midfielders of his generation, but he’d never let on.

Rohan Banerjee is a Special Projects Writer at the New Statesman. He co-hosts the No Country For Brown Men podcast.