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Mr Brown gets tough

Posted by Helen Friday, September 10, 2004

Well, that is the headline on the BBC website. Apparently, Mr Brown (that’s Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer) did two things today, both of them impossible. The Red Queen advocated believing six impossible things before breakfast, so Mr Brown is getting there.

The first impossible thing was his announcement that there was no split in the Cabinet and everything was absolutely happy and serene. If he thinks anyone is going to believe that outside the Mad Hatter’s tea party, he needs to have a chat with somebody in the medical circles.

The other impossible thing Gordy announced was that he was delivering a tough warning to the EU’s finance ministers, who are meeting today to discuss that budget.

According to the Chancellor, Europe’s slow growth was causing a serious economic imbalance in the world, where the economies of the US, Japan and the EU were diverging. All this was caused by a reluctance on the part of the European leaders to carry out economic reforms.

The USA, he pointed out, averaged 3 per cent growth over the last decade, while the EU managed that rate in only one year in the same period. All true, of course, but what exactly does Mr Brown think he can do about it? Setting aside the fact that his own stewardship of the British economy has resulted in quite an unprecedented growth – of the most unproductive parts of the public sector, there is the question of who is in charge of the EU’s economy? It is not the British Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Then there is the rather unfortunate fact that, if the Constitution is ratified – and there has been no indication that Mr Brown will oppose that – the British Chancellor of the Exchequer will not be in charge of the British economy either. Economic policy, as our readers will undoubtedly recall, is due to become EU competence in that document. We shall be part of that wonderful non-achieving, low growth economy that he is getting all hot and bothered about.