Chancellor Philip Hammond after leaving a Downing Street meeting of business leaders.

The Chancellor is being castigated for telling the truth about the damage Brexit is causing.

The Brexiteers have identified a new enemy of the people: Philip Hammond. The Chancellor is being castigated for his “gloom” and “pessimism” over EU withdrawal. In the last day, the Daily Mail and Nigel Lawson have called for his sacking. The former denounced Hammond as “treacherous”, the latter accused of him coming “close to sabotage”.

The Chancellor’s sin is his refusal to hail Brexit as a moment of national rebirth. He has this week warned of the “cloud of uncertainty” over the economy and refused to set aside billions of pounds for a “no-deal” scenario. Yet far from being a doom-monger, Hammond is merely stating the obvious. Britain has gone from being the fastest-growing G7 economy to the slowest. It has the lowest growth and highest inflation of any major EU country (owing to the pound’s sharp depreciation). Firms are delaying investment for fear of future chaos and consumer confidence has plummeted.

As Chancellor, Hammond’s duty is to defend the interests of the economy. By highlighting the unambiguous harm Brexit is doing, he hopes to push the government towards a softer approach. Rather than prioritising the reduction of immigration or the reclamation of (narrowly-defined) sovereignty”, Hammond would prioritise growth. As he has candidly stated, a no-deal scenario would be calamitous for the economy. The commitment of billions at this time would deprive public services of limited resources. And planning for “no deal” (an outcome some Brexiteers would relish) risks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The attacks on Hammond are reminiscent of those on Alistair Darling in August 2008 when he warned economic conditions were “arguably the worst they’ve been in 60 years” (prompting Gordon Brown to unleash the “forces of hell” against him). …read more

Source:: New Statesman

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