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Progressive media criticising fiscal stimulus as a recession threatens – such is the modern Left

I have regularly noted how the UK Guardian, the so-called newspaper for progressives as opposed to The Times, which serves the Tories, has been a primary media instrument for propagating neo-liberal economic myths. It has also been part of Project Fear, which the Remainers thought would see the June 2016 Referendum resolved in their favour, and have ever since been moaning about the need for another vote – you know, democracy as long as it delivers what you want. But when the Tories outflank them by electing Boris Johnson who then determines he will take the intransigent European Union on by calling their bluff and pushing ahead with Brexit by hook or by crook, the Remainers scream about democracy being trampled and all the rest of it. And when the Johnson Tories announce that they will introduce a significant fiscal stimulus to head-off any possible non-government recessionary forces (which is sensible and responsible fiscal conduct), the Remainers open their beloved Guardian to find their favourite journalists raving on about how such a move is risky because it will ‘damage public finances’ and predicting, derisively, that the Government will have to break their ridiculous fiscal rules because of the scale of the stimulus required. This is par for the course for the Europhile Left these days – champions of neoliberalism.

The UK Guardian article (September 1, 2019) – Javid greets big moment with more splash-the-cash short-termism – continues a series of articles by its economics correspondent (Richard Partington) who cannot seem to make up his mind on how to spin his anti-Brexit, anti-Tory line.

He regularly reports how bad things are getting in the UK as the “Brexit uncertainty takes toll” but also knows he must deride the use of fiscal stimulus by the Tories.

But then he cannot eschew fiscal stimulus per se because then the Labour Party would be on slippery ground – more slippery than it already is.

So he has had to work on a pitch that criticises the Tories for proposing fiscal stimulus, declaring it will not work anyway and will just make things worse, but then leave room open for a Labour fiscal stimulus, which will work and make things better.

Go figure that agenda!

I have been following his writing for some time now as he dodges and weaves trying to sound credible. He fails miserably as do all ‘progressives’ who try to couch the economic debate within the neoliberal framing of sound finance and fiscal rules but then somehow still claim they are going to reform the EU and transform the British economy.

His latest article (cited above) breaks new ground.

The basic thesis in the article (if you could call it that) is that the Tories are proposing a significant fiscal stimulus after years of damaging austerity.

But because a recession might follow a no-deal Brexit – the fiscal stimulus will risk damaging the government’s finances (yep) and making things worse.

And as a result, the Tories will have to abandon the fiscal rules (that define austerity) and that will mean they lose credibility. All through the article there are terms like “fix the public finances”, which disclose the neoliberal framing that drives his writing.

One doesn’t ‘fix’ public finances. They are not a car that breaks down and needs some new part.

I told you it was a slippery slope he was skating down.

Let’s investigate that causal chain of misery.

First, the Tories are acting sensibly by promising to provide significant fiscal support to the British economy as it approaches separation from the European Union, which was always going to be disruptive – more or less, depending on the way the exit is achieved.

My view has been that if sufficient fiscal support is provided for long enough there need not be any recession and the painful adjustments that accompany any major structural shift such as Brexit will be done within a growth environment, which always makes transition easier than if the adjustments have to be made in a deep recession.

So the Tories are following script here.

Their promises will not reverse the damage of 9 years of austerity – those costs will haunt Britain and its people for decades to come. They have undermined business investment, severely compromised the capacities of local council to deliver services, have degraded public infrastructure to the point that Britain is lagging well behind other OECD nations, and have impoverished many people and communities of people.

So the fiscal stimulus being announced this week will not compensate for that damage for which the Tories will forever be held accountable.

Destructive and mindless policies for 9 years.

However, they seem to understand that without fiscal support, Brexit (no-deal or other) will create short-run disclocations and could lead to recession.

In that context, what the Chancellor is proposing this week should not be cast as – “the end of austerity” – as Partington tells his readers. Rather it is a cyclical initiative to offset any negative non-government spending.

What happens when recession is avoided will tell us whether the Tories are bringing and end to austerity or not. I would doubt they are so inclined but we need to wait and see on that.

As a cyclical offset strategy, it is perfectly reasonable for the government to announce a large fiscal stimulus at this point.

And it is also perfectly reasonable that the stimulus be able to offset non-government spending reductions in the short-term.

Partington’s criticism that “the spending review is only covering a 12-month period” is invalid.

Sure enough, Britain will have to make some longer-term decisions with respect to reversing the damage done to people and public infrastructure as a result of austerity.

But that need doesn’t substitute for short-term spending stimulus if Brexit does result in a recession trajectory.

Partington then demeans the fiscal strategy with emotional constructs such as:

The Tories have shaken the magic money tree with abandon, producing crowd-pleasing dollops of cash for public services since Johnson’s elevation to No 10 in July.

The fact that the new regime is finally using its fiscal capacity to advance public services should be celebrated after what has been the norm since 2010.

Since when has the ‘progressive’ media been against improving public services – especially when they have been starved of adequate funding for years?

And what logic leads Partington to claim that an increase of “£6bn of extra spending” on improving school funding, hospitals, police services:

… is a high-risk strategy when a no-deal Brexit could sink the country into recession and damage the public finances, making it tough to bring about the end of austerity.

Well the logic apparently is somehow related to whether the Government will be able to “stay within the fiscal rules set by his predecessor”.

He acknowledges these are “self imposed rules” and it is clear if Brexit brings recessionary forces and the Government, responsibly, offsets them with an appropriately sized fiscal stimulus then the rules will be broken.

That is the nature of stupid fiscal rules – they are always broken in times of cyclical downturn.

The Government will not be able to “bring the public finances into balance by the mid-2020s” at the current rate (especially with Brexit about to shock the economy) and we should only say – so what?

This is the problem the British Labour Party will also have if it is ever in government and a major recession strikes. As I have explained many times, its so-called Fiscal Credibility Rule will be shot to pieces by such an event.

So why even bother with these rules?

Partington then speculates on whether the Chancellor has the “headroom … to stay within the rules next year” and equates these fiscal rules with:

… keeping the country’s finances on an even keel.

Neoliberal framing.

Neoliberal language.

The ‘progressives’ doing the work for the neoliberals.

That is what the mainstream Left in Britain seems to have become.

Why try to score points against the Tories by criticising them for possibly breaking away from a blind adherance to neoliberal rules?

Why wouldn’t the Left seize this opportunity to mount an education campaign showing why such rules are damaging and irrelevant to the achievement of prosperity?

Why wouldn’t they educate the population that there is nothing meaningful in the neoliberal term “keeping the country’s finances on an even keel”, that the purpose of fiscal policy is to create generalised well-being, provide high quality infrastructure and public services and high levels of well-paid employment?

Why wouldn’t they?

Oh, I forgot, because they have a stupid fiscal rule too!

Fiscal space aka headroom

And all this talk of headroom … what is the benchmark again?

Oh, those self-imposed financial ratios which bear no particular relation to anything that matters with respect to the well-being of the people.

When we talk about fiscal space the only meaningful way to construct the problem is to define the spending options for government within the real resource constraints applicable at any point in time.

So if all productive resources are being fully utilised then there is no spending room left for government, taken into account that the government wants to maintain both full employment and price stability.

In that situation, if the government wanted to increase its share of real resource use then it has to use policy measures (taxes, regulation, etc) to deprive the non-government sector of their use.

Richard Partington clearly doesn’t understand that point.

He is content to quote some management consultant-type as saying that “a no-deal Brexit could damage the public purse to the tune of about £40bn”:

It would not make sense to rush any additional spending at this stage … It makes sense to be prudent and say: ‘I’m going to hold back to leave a bit of margin for Brexit.’

Which is meaningless nonsense.

First, there is no meaning in the terminology “damage the public purse”.

Partington thinks that a rising deficit is damaging and vice versa. I can damage by knee when I run. But we cannot injure a fiscal state.

We can assess fiscal policy settings to be inappropriate in relation to the purposes of fiscal policy – to achieve full employment, equity, price stability etc.

Second, there is no meaning to the concept of “hold back to leave a bit”. Hold back what? Government spending?

The British government can buy whatever is for sale in its currency, including all idle labour.

If it spends a billion pounds today, that doesn’t stop it repeating the act tomorrow and the next day – in financial terms.

Governments that issue their own currency do not ‘save’ in that currency to allow them to spend more tomorrow. That is what households, who use the currency the government issues do.

We have to save to increase our future consumption possibilities, other things equal, because we are financially constrained.

A currency-issuing government never has to do that.

And on the issue of fiscal space (as defined within MMT), if Brexit does cause such havoc as Project Fear has predicted (over and over, and repeatedly wrong), then there will be an abundance of real resources idle – that the Government can bring back into productive use with a sensible fiscal intervention.

Further, the years of austerity have created such a backlog of spending opportunities that the Government will be hard pressed to know where to start fixing the damage of the last three decades.

For example, the OECD published a working paper (No 1244) on July 6, 2015 – Improving Infrastructure in the United Kingdom – which presented a scathing critique of the damage that the last three decades of neoliberalism and the associated fiscal austerity has caused to the quality and scope of infrastructure in Britain.

Britain has:

1. “spent less on infrastructure compared to other OECD countries over the past three decades”.

2. “The perceived quality of UK infrastructure assets is … lower than in other G7 countries.”

3. “Capacity constraints have emerged in some sectors, such as electricity generation, air transport and roads” due to inadequate provision and maintenance.

4. “Infrastructure contributes to productivity, economic activity and people’s well-being”.

5. “Infrastructure is essential in attracting foreign direct investment. For instance, a recent survey has found that transport infrastructure is the second most important criterion for multinational firms when choosing where to invest, behind workforce availability and skills”.

6. “The economic structure of the UK exhibits a wide dispersion in regional productivity and activation levels … Adequate infrastructure provision would be instrumental in lowering regional disparities.”

This graph (compiled using OECD Economic Outlook data) shows how far government investment in the UK has fallen behind other nations as a proportion of the size of the economy.

The OECD paper also presents a graph which shows how far UK transport infrastructure spending has fallen behind

We learn that:

… the government has identified major infrastructure investment needs in the UK to 2020 and beyond amounting to GBP 460 billion (around 25% of 2014 GDP).

That represents a major fiscal opportunity should the real resources be available to facilitate such infrastructure development.

The OECD also note that:

Rising private sector participation since the 1980s in the absence of a coherent long-term infrastructure strategy … may have led to sector fragmentation, impaired an across-sector view of infrastructure and, in some cases, could have weakened accountability for investment to build sufficient long-term capacity.

They cite issues with a range of areas: transport congestion, railways, air travel infrastructure, water and flood defences, supply constraints in the electricity and gas supply, digital infrastructure, among others.

They cite that Britain is lagging behind the provision of environmentally-friendly transport options

The longer term …

Richard Partington then thinks it is sensible to create uncertainty by claiming that the Government will not be able to keep within its fiscal rules.

Okay so it will break them.

And then what?

So while writhing about in his word cloud finding some angle on which to criticise a government that is intent on using its fiscal capacity to offset the shock from Brexit, which it now seems determined (finally) to push through, and, trying to claim there is no “headroom” for the government to do anything meaningful, etc, Richard Partington then has to salvage the game somehow.

So we read:

The UK has significant scope to raise spending on public services, given historically low borrowing costs on the international market. The deficit has been cut down to a 17-year low. Rather than a panic-driven spending round, real issues must be tackled over the long term, such as reducing child poverty, improving social care, fixing the country’s productivity puzzle and reversing cuts to local council services.

Oh, so there is a lot of ‘headroom’ (using his logic).

And, of course, the neoliberalism is there to the end in Partington’s reasoning.

The previous quote is a classic demonstration – that the government only has spending capacity if the deficit is low and bond yields are low.

Which, of course, is nonsensical.

The British government can spend whenever.

It doesn’t have to borrow if it so chooses. And shouldn’t.

And if it does borrow it can control all borrowing ‘costs’ (yields) if it so chooses.

The British government is not subjugated to bond markets. It is the other way around.

Conclusion

After acknowledging that there are plenty of long-term spending projects available to the British government, it is clear that Richard Partington just doesn’t like the Tories using these opportunities.

Why?

Because in using their fiscal capacity, they will be able to demonstrate that Brexit was never going to deliver the massive losses that Project Fear has been trying to get people to believe will occur – as part of the Remain agenda to ‘make democracy work again’.

You know the line. Democracy is only working if it delivers the results that you want. If it doesn’t then we have to restore democracy.

And please do not infer I support the Tories in any way. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The point is that the mainstream Left has become so bereft in this debate that the British people are:

1. Increasingly shifting support to Boris Johnson (Source).

2. Labour is going backwards – at the end of August, the Tories led 34 per cent to Labour 22 per cent. The Liberal Democrats were on 17 per cent (Source).

And that is because the Left are caught up in a neoliberal economic prison and cannot articulate beyond that.

And they have the UK Guardian as their daily word cheer squad – the cheer squad from hell.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2019 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

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    This Post Has 20 Comments
    1. Much the same problem exists in the US Democrat party. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi believes in the same neo liberal orthodoxy which over here is called ‘pay go.’ To Pelosi that means if you spend more in one part of the budget, you must spend less somewhere else. Resulting, supposedly, in some bizarro world of economics where the federal fiscal accounts must be in ‘balance.’

    2. @Chris, and here in the UK, the Labour party has often been criticised for having a policy of “tax and spend”, curiously ignoring the fact that every single government of whatever political hue taxes and spends!
       
      This had become so ingrained into the mainstream political consciousness that the incoming Labour government in 1997 (under Blair, with Brown as his Chancellor) voluntary decided to restrict itself to the previously announced Tory spending limits for 2 years. This, together with making the BoE “independent” was a clear signal to the orthodox world that “don’t worry, it’s ok. We’re neoliberals just like you”. To be fair, they did start to increase public spending later on, with some good effect, but of course were roundly criticised for it, and after the 2010 election (which they lost) were blamed (by both Tories and Liberal Democrats) for running up a huge deficit, which in turn was used as an excuse for austerity policies.

    3. Meanwhile, just as the Tories magically find money a few years after they contributed to the deaths of 120,000 people, the EU magically finds money in a ‘fund’, ‘behind the sofa’ stuff:

      ‘Senior EU officials will discuss using cash in its Solidarity Fund to “furnish member states with financial assistance to cover heavy charges inflicted on them in the event the United Kingdom leaves without an accord”.

    4. @ Simon Cohen:-
      “Meanwhile, just as the Tories magically find money a few years after they contributed to the deaths of 120,000 people, the EU magically finds money in a ‘fund’, ‘behind the sofa’ stuff”.

      Beautifully expressed, in regard to both instances. I know I’m jaundiced but I can’t help but regard the EU’s turpitude as being by far the greater of the two. At least the Tories never pretended to be anything other than crazed deficit-freaks – whereas the EU mandarins’ blatant hypocrisy is sickening.

    5. Over here in Brexit land… Or not Brexit land. No one really knows what is going on anymore…

      … But meanwhile, Bill points out the fiscal stimulus being offered by our government, and then points out just how ridiculous our supposed progressive commentators sound when arguing against it.

      But then we live in a double standards media world, where a slightly left wing party threatens us with becoming a Marxist vassal state, which will turn us into Zimbabwe or worse Greece, while a serial lying narcissist is the voice of reason.

      And if you believe that Government announcements actually mean anything, then I dunno which country you have been in for the last few years, but it’s clearly not this one.

      After declaring that prorogation was an affront to democracy… Now apparently it is perfectly normal to shut down Parliament for 5 weeks to deliver the will of the people.

      And it so happens that ministers were vehemently denying that the government would do any such thing, the very day before, they got rumbled through a leak, that they were planning to ambush the Queen at Balmoral, and come away with it all signed and sealed before anyone knew what was going on.

      And what we have is the longest period of prorogation that is likely to get thru a legal challenge… And we know this coz Cox was consulted beforehand. And it is so chosen to make sure a no confidence vote would fail to create an interim government, and give the least amount of time for those pesky MPs to pull any stunts after they come back, and are tied up in the Queens speech shenanigans.

      Meanwhile the Johnson as I like to call him could well get defeated if he goes thru with calling a snap election, because they don’t trust him not to change the date of the election when they aren’t around for that 5 weeks.

      So yeah… Fiscal stimulus… It’s like smoke, blows away in the wind.

    6. T.G.Congdon ‘believes’ that no recession is imminent?
      “Given that the Fed and the ECB have shown a welcome pragmatism in responding to the current global slowdown, and given also that – despite our concerns – money growth trends remain more or less satisfactory, a central forecast for 2020 can sensibly be for roughly trend growth of the world economy accompanied by low inflation. As ever, many worries surround a benign view of this sort, but recent financial events in China and India – like those in the developed world – also support it. “

    7. “And that is because the Left are caught up in a neoliberal economic prison and cannot articulate beyond that.” bill

      Though the Gold Standard has long been abolished, fiat use is still largely* confined to depository institutions, aka “the banks” – as if fiat was still too expensive for the entire population to use.

      So it’s no wonder if Gold Standard thinking persists when remnants of it, i.e. the current banking model, still exist.

      *Except for mere physical fiat, coins and paper bills.

    8. Labour’s polling in the uk did not fall on its adoption of a fiscal rule.
      It is losing support to the austerity coalition partners the lib dems
      while the tories are picking up support from the brexit party.
      It is a stupid rule and it would be a monumental stupidity for the left if the right
      wing of politics adopted greater fiscal stimulus than the left but I think
      you must know this has nothing to do with current polling in the uk .

    9. Large deficits eat into private banks profits.

      That is the game they are all playing with most of them either on the pay role already or looking to find a space in the revolving door between editor jobs and the city of london.

      The whole framing and so called innocent frauds were packaged by wall street, city of London and Frankfurt. Then rolled out by advertising agencies.

      The left continue to play away at neoliberal utd. Petrified to take on the big banks after the Maastricht treaty try to hide the truth on how central banks and banking operates in the real world.

      It is like so called progressives who threaten independence but want to stay with the Euro. They talk out of both sides of the same mouth but say different things. Italy, Scotland and Spain left wingers might as well pull on the number 9 shirt and play striker for liberals Utd and get sponsership money from Goldman sachs.

    10. I never understood J. Corbyn’s anti EU stance, until a professor on radio today said Corbyn “regards the EU as a capitalist cabal”.

      It’s a pity Corbyn is losing public support; he had the guts to promote good old-fashioned socialism (of the type practiced in many countries immediately post WW2) , at a time when it’s still despised by the mainstream (because of an erroneous conflation with the politics of the USSR).
      Bernie Sanders is also not ashamed to say he is a ‘democratic socialist’ – no mean feat in the US where even Perlosi says: “we are all capitalists here”.

      But obviously neither Corbyn nor Sanders understand MMT – why is it so?

      Surely not because “large (fiscal) deficits eat into private banks profits” as Derek Henry has noted above. Certainly Obama failed to imprison even ONE bankster in the US, post the GFC, surely not out of fear of the banksters, but because he had no understanding of macroeconomics.

      We’ve got a job to do. I’m meeting Christine Keneally on Friday, and Jay Weatherill later (he’s trying to find out why the ALP lost the recent federal election in Oz…..

      btw, can Americans who read these posts warn AOC to stay away from identity politics? That diversion (identity politics) plays into the hands of the dominant, monied, conservative Right, aided and abetted by the dumb, poor (often violent) conservative Right who are their own worst enemies.

    11. The ‘banksters’ were ‘just’ incompetent?
      “As Axel Weber remarked, afterwards:
      I asked the typical macro question: who are the twenty biggest suppliers of securitization products, and who are the twenty biggest buyers. I got a paper, and they were both the same set of institutions…. The industry was not aware at the time that while its treasury department was reporting that it bought all these products its credit department was reporting that it had sold off all the risk because they had securitized them…” 1h. 10m. in.
      http://www.lse.ac.uk/lse-player?id=1856

      “The root problem of 2008 was a failure to recognize that the highly leveraged money center banks had used derivatives not to distribute subprime mortgage risk to the broad risk bearing capacity of the market as a whole but, rather, to concentrate it in themselves.”
      https://equitablegrowth.org/misdiagnosis-of-2008-and-the-fed-inflation-targeting-was-not-the-problem-an-unwillingness-to-vaporize-asset-values-was-not-the-problem/

    12. It is of course pathetic to see supposedly leftish commentators decrying Tory plans to increase public spending, but I imagine this is born of panic that the right is stealing the left’s clothes, and will gain political advantage by doing so – though only because the left were too cowardly, ignorant or slow to propose the necessary public spending increases themselves.

      I suspect that Johnson/Javid will only concentrate spending increases in those areas that have significant (and, post-GE/Brexit, expanded) private-sector involvement, such as a further to be privatised NHS, and education. (Areas not qualifying for this largesse will be social security and local authorities, perceived by the right as politically less popular, and where the scope for private hoovering will be seen as reduced.)

      This is Mussolini’s model – the original inventor of public/private partnerships – and will see much of the increase in state spending immediately diverted into private corporate profits, thereby diluting the potential benefits of that growth in spending for frontline services.

      It’s a trick to make the wealthy even wealthier, using increased public spending as the conduit – the Tories couldn’t care less about the health and education needs of ordinary people, beyond creating the illusion of anti-austerity required politically in order to win the next GE.

      As such, a reasonable dollop of cynicism about Tory spending increases is justified, in my opinion – but indeed that’s not Partington’s argument. He’s clearly the victim of an education in mainstream economics, and groupthink in his subsequent career, but that’s no surprise at the Guardian.

      We must stop thinking of it as a leftish newspaper and its writers as left wingers because it really isn’t, and they aren’t; the tragedy is that some readers genuinely believe it is, and that’s where the damage is done.

    13. Neil Halliday wrote:-
      “I never understood J. Corbyn’s anti EU stance…”

      You’re not the only one. Corbyn himself doesn’t understand it either. He’s turned at least one double-somersault over the last three years.

      He undoubtedly once upon a time looked upon the EU – true to the lead given by his mentor the redoubtable Tony Benn, whose faithful follower he once was – as a capitalist cabal.

      But that was before, trying to be all things to all men, he opted to adopt a Customs Union as his declared aim (knowing full well that that would be impossible without binding the UK to continued compliance with:- the Single Market, the Four Freedoms and subjugation to the jurisdiction of the European Court’s rulings). Who he thought he was kidding he alone knew.

      Then came his capitulation to the party’s Blairite right wing, when he declared that Labour Party policy was now to oppose leaving the EU (except on terms of supine acceptance of all of its terms for a Withdrawal Agreement). Thus breaking his solemn pledge made before the referendum, repeated in the Party’s platform for the 2017 GE, that it was committed to carrying-out the wishes of the majority in the referendum.

      “But obviously neither Corbyn nor Sanders understand MMT – why is it so?”

      Because they’re immunised against it by having become infected with the mainstream virus. Besides, Corbyn has no understanding of macroeconomics at all and is surrounded by bad advisers.

    14. @Mr S.

      Very astute comment, Mr. S.

      Indeed, it could turn out to be a bulletproof plan to redistribute wealth upwards under the premise of social welfare and investments in infrastructure.

      In regards to your Mussolini remark, BJ is probably emulating a great prime minister of old: Winston Churchill. In his “Churchill: A life” Martin Gilbert writes about Churchill’s visit to Rome around 1927 and his impressions about Mussolini:

      “Churchill claimed he had been “charmed” by his “gentle and simple bearing” and praised the way “he thought of nothing but the lasting good… of the Italian people. […] Finally, he addressed the suppression of left-wing political parties: “If I had been an Italian, I am sure that I should have been whole-heartedly with you from the start to the finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism.” ”

      (There is an interesting article on Jacobin Magazin with the title “The Real Winston Churchill” which is available online for free that is worth reading.)

      As for the American side, the self-proclaimed “vanquishers of fascism” tend to leave out the fact that there would have probably been a lot less fascism left to vanquish, had J.P. Morgan Co. not secured a $100 million loan for Mussolini around 1925, which I believe would be roughly 1.5 billion of today’s dollars.

      Bill correctly points out how neoliberal “newspeak” makes an honest debate almost impossible, but we should be as wary of the control of the narrative through the supremacy in the interpretation of history. After all, it was also Orwell who said “who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past”. The failure to consistently debunk or at least challenge the shaky and revisionist use of history to push for wars, austerity and repression is just but another instance of the “modern left” media falling in line with power instead of the people.

      Cheers!

    15. Tories are not spending money to help people. The Tories are spending money to avoid the repercussions of their actions past and present. The “flexible” financial plans of Labour seem little different. So Brexit would work (but not in the context of the current political reality)?

    16. @Heim

      HMG’s spending plans is electioneering, nothing more.

      The strategy of Johnson is to see off the threat of the Brexit party, by being at least as Brexity as them, unite the tory Party by kicking out anyone who isn’t Brexity enough, and goad the opposition into an early election.

      Their spending plans are about grimly holding onto power by any means necessary.

      And as far as Brexit working… Well…

      The thing with no deal, is that it doesn’t get Brexit over. We do leave the EU for sure, but the UK will want most likely a Canadian style FTA with the EU.

      And the very first thing the EU are going to say to us, is what are you going to do about the border between NI & ROI?

      And the thing is wanting to have a customs border which doesn’t look like a border is a very tricky thing to achieve. The alternative arrangements working group solution that they think is most likely to work is at least 3 years away, probably more, because it is complicated and according to them will hurt small businesses.

      Meanwhile the only viable legal
      route from NI to ROI will be via Scotland.

      And Johnson won’t accept a backstop agreement for NI, even as an interim, so those talks will stall. Meanwhile we will be trading with EU on WTO terms which is worse than the rest of world. The EU will of course put in place temporary legislation where necessary, but that will be on its own terms and where it is in its interest to do so.

    17. Mark Redwood
      Thursday, September 5, 2019 at 22:27
       
      The thing with no deal, is that it doesn’t get Brexit over. We do leave the EU for sure, but the UK will want most likely a Canadian style FTA with the EU.
       
      And the very first thing the EU are going to say to us, is what are you going to do about the border between NI & ROI?

      Not sure why that would be a problem if it’s going to be a Free Trade Area. If we are in an FTA with our nearest neighbour, then we don’t need a “hard” border.
       
      But even if it were a problem, then we just treat NI slightly differently to the rest of the UK (it’s different anyway, in several respects). True, the DUP won’t like that, but provided (after an election), the new government has a sufficient majority, it won’t need the DUP’s votes any more, and we can tell the DUP to go and do something useful for a change, like helping to get the NI Assembly back up and running.
       
      In passing, quite a good podcast, on the current state of Brexit play, as of 6 Sep 2019:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYVSzEANPdE
      “Special: The Brexit endgame — the spiked podcast”

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