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George Osborne’s reactionary pessimism

David Green, 18 April 2016

In a continuation of the remain camp’s strategy of talking Britain down, George Osborne claims that Britain will be ‘permanently poorer’ outside the EU. He backed up his claim with a Treasury report based on questionable assumptions.

He appears to have forgotten David Cameron’s speech to the World Economic Forum at Davos on 21 January 2016:

‘… you’re never going to hear me say that Britain couldn’t succeed outside the European Union. Britain is the fifth largest economy in the world. We’ve got a huge amount of talent and resources and brilliant people and we’re members of many important organisations in our world. I’m never going to talk Britain down …’

Mr Cameron went on to say that we would be better off in the EU, but in January he did not share Mr Osborne’s pessimist view that leaving would be a disaster. Nearly a month later, after the European Council meeting on 19 February 2016 he continued to believe in Britain, when he said: ‘I’m not saying that Britain couldn’t survive outside Europe.’

Why the new strategy? The only thing that’s changed is that the opinion polls are running in favour of independence. Consequently the remain camp is having to increase the dose of reactionary pessimism. Telling us we would be better off in the EU isn’t working and so they are having to concoct evidence that we would be disastrously worse off outside.

Most of us haven’t got the time to evaluate the Treasury’s economic models and so it comes down to trust. Who trusts George Osborne?

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