Britain Happier Despite Brexit

Despite all the doom and gloom from the BBC, Faisal Islam, The Times, FT and Guardian, Brexiting Britain is actually happier:

Taking back control feels good, the statisticians cite ‘statistically significant improvements in average ratings of life satisfaction, feeling the things we do in life are worthwhile and happiness for the UK overall’. These are actual ONS figures, not a forecast…

Could this be because all the depressing forecasts of doom and gloom from the government and the media have turned out to be BS? Remember HM Treasury’s official guidance to voters, in a letter sent to each and every household, was that on a Leave vote Britain faced:

  • a year-long recession
  • loss of 500,000 jobs
  • GDP around 3.6% lower

GDP has grown in every quarter by an average of 0.4% since the referendum. Weak growth is not a recession.

GDP is 6.1% higher than the Treasury forecast it would be, according to BrexitCentral.com that is equivalent to £135 billion of extra annual production over their estimate, or just over £2,000 for every man, woman and child.

317,000 new jobs have been created since the referendum, that is 817,000 higher than the Treasury forecast.

The Remainstream media reporting of those Treasury forecasts implied that those of us who wanted to Leave were, in the words of the then Chancellor George Osborne, “economically illiterate”. Leaving aside whether he should have accused us of being “economically innumerate”, it turned out it was in fact him who was totally wrong. 

Is Britain happier because the forecast doom and gloom has not materialised? There will be another happiness dividend when the new Project Fear claims of airplanes not flying, cancer patients going untreated and exports rotting in ports turns out to be untrue…

“Grunter” Osborne Works Out at Beckham’s £295-a-Month Gym

Over on Instagram George Osborne has been spotted by a fellow fitness fanatic at Barry’s Bootcamp, the VIP gym to the stars which boasts David Beckham and Ellie Goulding among its clientele. Originally established in Hollywood, Barry’s London in Euston claims to offer “the best workout in the world”, and promises:

“Your loved ones will probably see a difference in 5 weeks, and your friends (the observant ones, and the ones who have a crush on you) will probably notice in 2-3 months.”

Apparently “You’ll feel better about yourself, you’ll be more motivated to work out, and seeing the heads whipping around as you stroll by doesn’t exactly hurt your ego”. Disturbingly the Instagram gym bunny who spotted Osborne writes: “I can confirm he’s a grunter”. Membership can cost up to £295-a-month. 5:2 diet not cutting it?

Nick Timothy on Osborne’s Standard

Nick Timothy on George Osborne’s latest:

“Evening Standard editorials will soon be shortlisted for the Booker Prize.”

Osborne Lands Job Number 7

George Osborne has landed job number seven (and eight?): visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and dean’s fellow at its business school. Those jobs in full:

  1. Washington Speakers Bureau after-dinner speaker
  2. Adviser to Blackrock
  3. Chairman of Northern Powerhouse Partnership
  4. Fellow at McCain Institute
  5. Editor of the Evening Standard
  6. Economics professor, Manchester University
  7. Visiting fellow at Stanford University

This one, unusually, is unpaid. Though Stanford did pay him £30,000 for a speech last year.

Osborne’s Latest Duff Analysis

Curious line in George Osborne’s Evening Standard editorial today:

“If we want to remain trading in the single market and customs union, then we will have to make annual financial contributions, accept free movement of people and acknowledge the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. That is what Mrs May was sensibly shaping up to offer in Florence, until Mr Johnson suddenly realised it would run counter to all the promises he made a year ago.”

Was May really “shaping up” to accept free movement? Not sure Standard readers are getting the best Brexit analysis…

UPDATE: A government source says Osborne’s analysis is “completely delusional” and that there was never any chance of them accepting free movement or ECJ jurisdiction. Another embarrassing Standard cock-up…

UPDATE II: May’s former chief of staff Nick Timothy:

“Not even George can believe this. Evening Standard editorials will soon be shortlisted for the Booker Prize.”

Osborne Repents

In his Standard leader today George Osborne all but admits that he did make that infamous “chopped up in a bag in my freezer” comment about Theresa May. This evening’s editorial praises May on modern slavery, suggesting her critics should now refrain from OTT language about her:

“In the battles over Brexit, and over the future direction of the Conservative Party, some harsh words have been said about the Prime Minister. Her advisers created a poisonous atmosphere among senior Tories. But they are now gone, and a much more consensual team has recently replaced them in Downing Street. Mrs May’s critics in her party will want to respond in kind. We can reflect that strong differences of opinion do not need intemperate language, even when said in jest.”

So he did say it then. Think “sorry” is the word he’s looking for…

Mogg: Osborne is a Poor Man’s Ted Heath

Osborne’s vitriol has not resonated with even strongly pro-Remain Tory MPs to whom Guido has spoken. This from Jacob Rees-Mogg on LBC sums up feeling among much of the parliamentary party:

“The sadness of George Osborne is that he is a formidably able man. He served with distinction as Chancellor of the Exchequer and he has decided since leaving parliament to emulate a rather less successful Edward Heath. And I think this type of bitterness and bile ends up making the person who has that bitterness and bile feel resentful and sad and has no effect on broader politics. His firepower diminishes with every bitter outburst and for so able a man that is something we should be sad about rather than particularly condemn.”

Yesterday the Standard’s first edition splashed on two different stories, both attacking Theresa May. He’s trying too hard…

Osborne Cracking Up

George Osborne is quoted in an Esquire profile vowing to never stop attacking Theresa May until she is “chopped up in bags in my freezer”. Not really the words of a man who is thinking rationally. As Guido noted a couple of weeks ago Tory MPs have been increasingly disturbed by Osborne’s macabre imagery when describing May. He has described her as a “dead woman walking”, said she is on “death row”, called her the “living dead” and talked of her “immediate execution”. The Tories will have reason to cancel his conference pass on security grounds at this rate…

Meanwhile today’s Evening Standard splashes on yet another pro-Juncker front page. Do Remainers really think talking up Jean-Claude is the way to get voters to change their minds? Mad…

Osborne on May

George Osborne has told more than one person he will not stop attacking Theresa May until

“she is chopped up in bags in my freezer”

David Davis on George Osborne

David Davis zings the Standard’s editor…

“I don’t read the Evening Standard, and if I’m going to take lessons on rule by decree, it won’t be from the editor.”

Standard’s Kelly Osbourne Moment

George Osborne’s Evening Standard hits peak metropolitan liberal elitism with this cartoon revealing how ultra-Remainers really see EU migrants: as cheap labour so serve them coffee, look after their children and clean their loos. It reminded Guido of Kelly Osbourne’s infamous racism row, where she tried to defend Latinos by asking: “Who is going to clean your toilets?” 

The mask slips…

Osborne’s Macabre May Metaphors

Tory MPs have noticed that George Osborne is very keen on using morbid imagery to describe Theresa May. In June he said she was a “dead woman walking” and asked how long she would “remain on death row”. In July he wondered who would “wield the knife”. Today he says she is “like the living dead”. He’s also said she is “like King Charles I” (who was beheaded). If you didn’t get the point, he adds that she has “staved off an immediate execution”. Imagine he sits in his office throwing darts at a Theresa May dartboard…

Wonks: Prioritise HS3 Over HS2

George Osborne is advocating a new high speed rail line (dubbed ‘HS3’) for the North of England, running from Liverpool to Hull. But it’s much more than another pressure tactic designed to trouble Number 10. The plan itself has some merit…

Everyone agrees infrastructure investment is badly needed if the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ regeneration is to succeed. At the high end, estimates for HS3 construction reach £7 billion, but this pales in comparison to the spiralling costs of HS2, projected at £56 billion (a figure which experience shows underestimates the likely final costs). The comparative benefits of HS3 are significant. The line would slash freight transport on crucial industrial routes by between as much as four and seven hours, and would cut a journey from Leeds to Manchester to just 30 minutes; HS2 saves time but not as much. Wonks at the Institute for Public Policy Research found that HS3 would boost economic growth and should be prioritised over HS2. Seems like they should build HS3 first…

Unemployment Rate Lowest Since 1975

Worth keeping on about this. During the referendum Osborne and the Treasury said unemployment would rise by 500,000 in the immediate aftermath of a Leave vote. Today’s new figures:

  • Unemployment fell 57,000 between April and June 2017
  • 157,000 fewer than for a year earlier
  • Unemployment rate is 4.4%
  • Down from 4.9% for a year earlier
  • The lowest since 1975

It was a big fat fib…

Stalker Osborne

Marina Hyde on Osborne’s new career…

“… George Osborne famously passed straight through the revolving door into the editor’s chair at the London Evening Standard, and now has all sorts of people “thinking again” about him on account of his amusingly frequent editorial attacks on Theresa May, the PM who sacked him. And yet, looked at another way, George Osborne is a guy who couldn’t take the rejection of being professionally broken up with, despite his clearly unreasonable behaviour, and who now spends his days tormenting the one who spurned him. He’s a sort of political stalker, really.”

GDP Would Need to Collapse 5% in Next 12 Months to Meet Osborne’s Treasury Predictions

Worth reading the new growth figures in the context of the Treasury’s pre-referendum projections. HMT warned that in the two years following a Leave vote, the UK would enter recession with GDP falling by between 3.6% and 6%.

There has been growth in each quarter following the vote to leave: 0.6% in Q3 2016, 0.6% in Q4 2016, 0.2% in Q1 2017 and 0.3% in Q2 2017. That means to meet Project Fear’s two-year prediction, GDP has to fall by over 5% in the next 12 months. Let’s see…

Abandoning Austerity Wouldn’t Increase Wages

Boris, Jeremy Hunt, Justine Greening and other MPs flirting with Torbynism should read today’s Centre for Policy Studies report ‘Abandoning Austerity is No Solution‘.

Ireland’s significantly larger fiscal consolidation has seen it experience a larger fall in its deficit, a larger proportionate fall in unemployment and better wage growth than the UK, counteracting the narrative that a higher level of austerity leads to economically harmful outcomes. If only Osborne had been as radical as his Irish opposite number Michael Noonan. Osborne excused his lack of radicalism on the deficit on the grounds he was in a coalition and “had to get re-elected”. Fine Gael were also in a coalition and got re-elected… 

This is reflected across other OECD countries that had a large budget deficit in 2010. There is a strong correlation between those countries that cut spending by a higher degree, and countries which achieved better economic growth and better wage growth.

As the CPS says:

“Even John Maynard Keynes argued that austerity should be used at the top of the business cycle, and it is vital that the UK’s budget deficit continues on a downward trajectory… In fact, the UK’s budget deficit reduction programme is already very modest and the UK’s tax burden is already set to climb to its highest level in four decades by 2025.”

The report finds that the only responsible ways to increase public sector wages would be to re-gear spending priorities, for example by making savings in the international aid budget or ring-fenced pensioner benefits. It also suggests further extending regional pay structures (apart from London weightings, there are no other areas of England where huge differentials in cost of living are matched by pay). Take note Torbynistas…

Osborne Defends BlackRock’s £500 Million Investment on Standard Front Page

George Osborne has defended his employer BlackRock’s half-a-billion pound investment on the front page of the Evening Standard. In the most glaring conflict of interest since his editorship began, today’s Standard blasts Rebecca Long-Bailey as “out of touch” for criticising Uber, and favourably quotes her own colleagues who support the taxi app. BlackRock, which invested in Uber in 2014, has a stake now worth some £500 million. BlackRock pays Osborne a salary of £600,000 for 48 days work per year.

BlackRock keeps Osborne on retainer and it is in BlackRock’s direct financial interests to see Uber defended, Osborne will no doubt argue that he defends Uber on the Evening Standard front page for liberal reasons. Guido did warn him that as editor he would have to navigate a minefield of conflicted interests when he took the job. This was inevitable…

UPDATE: The first edition of the Standard had no mention of Uber on the front page. Second edition splashed it. Did someone pick up the phone to the editor? 

Brexit Won’t Cause Cancer

George Osborne is enjoying himself and the front page of today’s Standard basically implies Brexit will give you cancer. This will apparently be a consequence of the UK leaving Euratom – the European Atomic Energy Community. Allegedly it will mean nuclear scientists and material will not be able to cross borders. Which will be odd given Britain is, with France, one of Europe’s only nuclear armed states.

The UK also hosts the Joint European Torus (JET), the world’s largest operational nuclear fusion device. The JET project – carried out by a team of 350 international scientists – is formally a joint venture used by more than 40 EU laboratories. Euratom’s flagship nuclear fusion research project is the ‘International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor’ (ITER), the world’s largest planned nuclear fusion experiment. Located in the south of France, it is funded and run by a seven-party consortium composed of the EU, India, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and the US. Six out of the seven parties are not members of Euratom. Expect that to increase to seven out of eight.

Since 2014, Switzerland has participated in Euratom programmes as an associated state. As of 2016 the community had co-operation agreements of various scopes with eight countries: the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and South Africa. After Brexit it will increase to co-operation with nine states.

According to Article 101 of the Euratom Treaty, ‘The Euratom Community may, within the limits of its powers and jurisdiction, enter into obligations by concluding agreements or contracts with a third state, an international organisation or a national of a third state’.  So the UK could work with Euratom as a third country, as can individual Britons.

By acquiring the status of third country the UK might join countries such as China and Russia, with which Euratom has established a ‘structured dialogue to identify a common set of research topics of mutual interest in which cooperation can take place on a shared-cost basis’. Alternatively under Article 206 of the Euratom Treaty, ‘The Community may conclude with one or more States or international organisations agreements establishing an association involving reciprocal rights and obligations, common action and special procedures’. That is the basis on which in 2014 Switzerland became an Associated Country to Euratom.

Did Guido mention that the UK is one of the biggest funders of Euratom projects? Osborne’s latest instalment of ‘Project Fear’ is not even up to his pre-referendum nonsense…

UPDATE: Guido forgot to mention the ONR which will take on Euratom responsibilities. Britain was after all a nuclear power before Euratom existed.

Osbo Mulling Euro Standard Hire

Guido hears a rumour that local free-sheet editor George Osborne is toying with the idea of hiring a “Europe Editor” to oversee the Standard’s anti-Brexit coverage. The one worry he has is of upsetting long-serving political editor Joe Murphy, who is basically a solid news hack of the old school and might not be thrilled at having his turf invaded by some Euro-commissar taking dictation from Nicky Morgan and Peter Mandelson.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Jo Swinson on Chris Rennard…

“Vince — and Tim before him — have repeatedly, publicly said Rennard is not welcome anywhere near their frontbench team, even as an adviser. I remain deeply frustrated that he was not expelled from the party through its disciplinary process. It just feels wrong, and I do not want Lord Rennard to continue as a member of the party. As far as I am concerned, he is not welcome.”

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