Boris Disavows Treasury’s Expected OBR ‘Central Scenario’ for Virus

Far from the more optimistic tone from Boris’s boffins last week that the UK could be back to normal by April, as Guido revealed yesterday, Rishi’s statement relied on OBR numbers expecting a high level of restrictions lasting until June. Under the OBR’s expected “central scenario”, the UK would be stuck in tiers one and two for a further seven months, forbidding household mixing for swathes of the country. Yet when Guido’s story was raised with the PM last night by Tory MPs at the 1922 Committee, he swiftly disavowed the forecast…

One Tory MP who logged on to the virtual meeting tells Guido that Boris rejected the OBR analysis, despite the Chancellor’s numbers being based on it earlier that day. The Prime Minister instead insisted the outlook was more optimistic. When the Chancellor was asked about the OBR’s assessment he himself relied on this morning on the Today Programme, Rishi was keen to downplay its importance, stressing the nature of the forecast and that in reality “no one knows”. Which is odd because the forecast is of what restrictions the Government will choose to put in place – something completely down to choices the Government will make, not unknowable external forces.

One excuse as to why Boris and Rishi are now disavowing the forecasts they relied on yesterday. could be that the forecast was produced before the Oxford vaccine announcements been made. The OBR told the Daily Mail last night that “we would be moving towards the upside” of the three scenarios in light of the Oxford vaccine news, and a new forecast will set that out “by the end of the financial year“. Which is odd, because when the forecast was made, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine successes had been announced. Presumably the OBR has a reason to be more pessimistic than the Government…

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