politics

'This is the ABCD Budget – Austerity, Brexit, Covid… and Deceit'


As self-styled Dishy Rishi Sunak rolls his one-man show into the Commons tomorrow, he will make a few spending announcements for some good news headlines, and seek to blame Covid for all the bad news about the state of the economy.

But don’t be fooled. This is the ABCD Budget … A for Austerity. B for Brexit. C for Covid. D for the Deceit the Chancellor will deploy in the hope that all the focus is on C, not A and B.

Of course the pandemic has delivered a huge blow to the economy, with so many lockdown-hit businesses hit hard, meaning lower tax revenues and higher unemployment, government picking up the tab for the furlough scheme which eventually will go, the NHS needing huge sums to cope with the additional demands placed upon it … oh, and the billions spaffed on Tory friends and donors for schemes for which they are not remotely qualified.

But Austerity under David Cameron and George Osborne laid the ground, its consequences an NHS always struggling to cope, from the PPE shortages that gaslighting Health Secretary Matt Hancock now claims never existed, the staff shortages that forced doctors and nurses to work themselves into ground for lots of Johnson-Symonds-Sunak claps on the steps of 10, and 11 Downing Street, but no pay rise; or the need to shovel people into care homes to create bed space in hospitals.

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Alastair Campbell, on stage during an anti-Brexit rally in Parliament Square in London, after it was announced that the Letwin amendment, which seeks to avoid a no-deal Brexit on October 31, was accepted, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's statement in the House of Commons, on his new Brexit deal
Alastair Campbell writes for the Mirror today ahead of tomorrow’s budget

Meanwhile Brexit is fast becoming the most gigantic elephant in the political room.

Though both frontbenches stress the strength of the economy as key to the fulfilment of all other promises, neither seem willing to put the GDP-whacking economic cost of Brexit centre stage – the Tories because it exposes the folly of the whole project, and the lies on which it was won, and Labour because they don’t want Brexit supporters to think the Party has not accepted Brexit has been done, and cannot be undone.

But it makes a total mockery of Sunak’s weekend claim that he would ‘level with the British people’ about the state of the economy.

It is no more credible that the other trite phrase we keep hearing fall from Tory lips – ‘levelling up.’


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How can you even claim to be levelling with the British people unless you admit that Brexit is already damaging the economy, with the only argument outstanding the exact percentage fall in GDP that it is going to inflict.

Red tape they said would be cut has massively increased and is driving many businesses to the wall; ‘checks and tariffs’ Boris Johnson denied would exist are now real; and a border in the Irish Sea Johnson denied would come about – even after signing the Treaty that confirmed it – is endangering both prosperity and peace in Northern Ireland, and possibly the Union of the UK.

And even on C for Covid, though Sunak will repeat more trite lines about putting his arms around the whole country, the harsh truth is that the economic cost has been massively increased by the government’s failure to get on top of this crisis when it first emerged.



Critical Care staff take care of Covid-19 patients on the Christine Brown ward at King's College Hospital in London on January 27, 2021
One of the consequences of austerity was an NHS always struggling to cope

We have had more and longer lockdowns than those countries that took it seriously from the off, and in addition to the tens of thousands Johnson’s denialism, exceptionalism and laziness killed, this has deepened the economic harm too.

I hope in his response to Sunak that Labour leader Keir Starmer reminds this shower of charlatans what was happening inside government exactly one year ago.

A year ago yesterday, Johnson finally attended a COBRA crisis meeting, having missed the first five, preferring instead a two-week holiday to sort out the mess of his private life.

But much of the meeting was taken up with ministers congratulating him on his news– he was having another child, and marrying (I’ll believe it when I see it) Carrie Symonds.

As for any policy decisions … no lockdown, let’s get to work on a speech saying Britain will stand up to Covid without closing the economy; let’s get ready for Cheltenham; let shake hands and stick two fingers to the virus.

They have destroyed lives. They have destroyed livelihoods. And Sunak, one of the radical right who always saw Brexit as the route to a low tax (for the wealthy), low regulation, anti-welfare, anti-internationalist revolution that even Margaret Thatcher stopped short of, will now try to use Covid as the cover to bring in cuts and changes they wouldn’t dare have fought an election on.

They used post-crash Austerity to make cuts they wanted to make. They’re using Brexit to further their right-wing vision.



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They’re hoping Covid means nobody will mind or notice too much, and by the time it is all done, as with Brexit, it will be too late to be undone.

That is why the D for Deceit is so central to their plan.

ABCD. Austerity. Brexit. Covid. Deceit.

A. Big. Conservative. Disaster.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.





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