We would not be able to repeat the 2008 rescue of the banks because our debt and deficit is too high. That was the stark, and under reported, comment from Chancellor Phil Hammond in a recent TV interview.
It didn’t get much attention because Hammond went on to call for an end to Cabinet leaks against him. A bunch of extreme Brexiteers and people measuring up the curtains in No 10 are letting their teenage special advisers loose to brief the media against the Chancellor.
His crimes? Calling for a transitional phase as we leave the EU and opposing a wholesale relaxation of the government’s pay policy. The former suggestion outrages extreme Brexiteers who want to leave the EU as fast as possible and hang the consequences. The latter view frustrates those with an eye on succeeding Theresa May because they believe the best hope for the Tories remaining in power, and them becoming Prime Minister, rests with a Corbyn lite approach to austerity.
In relation to the EU exit bill, Mr Hammond also said that we are not a country that welches on our responsibilities. That is the honourable position we should all support. Unfortunately, Boris Johnson says the EU can “go whistle” for their money. The clown demeans the office of Foreign Secretary.
It might be useful to spell out exactly why the gung ho approach of Johnson is as ill-informed as usual. For those that believe we can exit the EU without a bill, these are some of the facts. We have made EU budget and foreign aid commitments until 2020. We have made loan promises to the Irish and Portuguese governments. We are on the hook for the pensions of EU staff and even for keeping European satellites orbiting. What needs to be determined is our actual share, whether spending can be reprofiled, what’s actually involved and the method of calculation. Only then will we get the bill, but get the bill we will.
If the Chancellor said public sector staff were overpaid, he was wrong but he is right to have a cautious attitude to a pay explosion. He is also right on his approach to Europe. So, he should be supported not undermined by his colleagues. He is a friend of business.
Some of the salaries of BBC stars revealed this week are excessive. This is particularly so in the case of people like John Humphrys who gets £600,000 for presenting Today and plenty more hosting conferences. He has admitted he wouldn’t work anywhere else which is just as well as there is no equivalent job in commercial radio really. I certainly can’t see LBC forking out that figure when they have Nick Ferrari. So, the argument that they have to pay him the market rate or lose him doesn’t apply. It is different for the likes of Gary Linaker.
I look forward to other broadcasting channels and companies subjecting themselves to equal transparency in respect of the gender pay gap which has been shown up at the BBC and no doubt applies elsewhere.
One thing I will say for the BBC, their coverage of this awkward subject for them was extensive and balanced.
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