Obama in London: Barack Obama is right: Britain could lead Europe if it wanted to | The Economist

English: US President Barack Obama and British...

English: US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron trade bottles of beer to settle a bet they made on the U.S. vs. England World Cup Soccer game (which ended in a tie), during a bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada, Saturday, June 26, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is an outstanding, must-read article from the Economist. The Economist argues that Barack Obama is right and Britain could lead Europe if it wanted to.

Source: Obama in London: Barack Obama is right: Britain could lead Europe if it wanted to | The Economist

This is a balanced and powerful article from the Economist.

Some who do not favor the EU will argue that it was because of France‘s  President De Gaulle the UK never got a chance to be at the center of the EU. On the other hand, many Europeans argue that the UK has chosen to sit on the periphery of the EU. Most Europeans, including political leaders, have been well behaved about the Brexit referendum and have not tried to use it to their own political advantage. However, finance ministers in both Germany and France have warned that in the event of a Brexit win, then the negotiations would be tough – I suggest we think of Greece and multiply by ten – the pressures would be enormous, impacting global financial markets.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am passionately pro-Europe and in favor of the UK remaining in the EU.

I go along with the Economist and Barack Obama that the UK could be be at the center of Europe, influencing policy and perhaps leading in a collaborative way. But for this to be realized, UK political leaders would need to get off the fence. After the Brexit referendum, with a win in favor of remaining in the EU, I struggle to see David Cameron leading the government much longer and would expect him to step down on a high. This would precipitate a Conservative Party leadership contest, well before the next election. I fear that Boris, the bruiser, has blotted his copy-book, so the race is wide open. The leadership election will, of course, depend on the results of the referendum.



A radical, reforming budget – email from George Osborne

As a Conservative Party voter in the last election, I received the following email:

Dear Alf,

Today I delivered a Budget that supports work. I wanted to write to you immediately to explain our plans and set out some of the key measures.

This is a radical, reforming Budget that helps Britain earn its way in the world. It is a Budget that rewards work, unashamedly backs businesses and puts us on the side of those who aspire to do better for themselves and their families.


I wanted to help working families on middle and lower incomes. That is why I today announced the largest ever increase in the personal allowance, a tax cut of up to £220 for 24 million income taxpayers next year. Together with previous increases, this means that this Government will have taken 2 million of the lowest paid out of tax altogether, and basic rate taxpayers will be up to £526 better off.


No Chancellor can justify a tax rate that damages our economy and raises next to nothing. This is why I also announced that we are reducing the top rate of income tax to 45p, so Britain no longer has the highest rate of income tax of any major economy.

This tax undermined our competitiveness and independent evidence has shown that it only raised a fraction of what was intended. The independent analysis is that the direct cost of cutting it is £100 million, and if you include the effect on other taxes it could be nothing. I am raising £500 million through new taxes on the wealthiest parts of society. We have already capped benefits, now we are capping income tax relief. We have also introduced a new stamp duty rate for properties worth more than £2 million, but we have not introduced a Mansion Tax.


It cannot be fair for someone on £20,000 to pay for the Child Benefit of someone on £80,000. This is why I announced child benefit will be withdrawn when someone in the household has an income of more than £50,000. To prevent a cliff-edge, this withdrawal will be gradual, meaning only those households where someone earns more than £60,000 will lose all their child benefit. This means that 90 per cent of families will be eligible for child benefit.


This is a Budget that unashamedly backed business, large and small. We are simplifying small business taxes and I have also cut corporation tax again. This means we are on our way to a 22 per cent corporation tax rate – one of the lowest in the world. We are also backing British success stories with policies to help aerospace, pharmaceuticals, creative industries and energy.


Today I reaffirmed our unwavering commitment to deal with the debts left behind by Labour, which means we are spending over £120 million every day on debt interest. So I am sticking to the plan. Our credibility is helping to keep interest rates low for households and businesses around the country. If we listened to Labour’s calls for more spending, more borrowing, and more debt we would risk a sudden loss of confidence and a sharp rise in interest rates.

For more details of the Budget, you can read my statement and the full document on the Treasury website here.

Finally, I’d just like to remind you on May 3rd we have the local elections, including the Mayoral contest in London. Please support Boris and get involved by visiting backboris2012.com.

Yours sincerely,

George Osborne
Chancellor of the Exchequer

Regular readers of my blog will know that I believe passionately that the Coalition Government has been too aggressive on austerity and has not done enough to stimulate jobs and growth.

For sure, this has been a budget that favours big business. Personally, I am not convinced that the benefits to big business will automatically find their way into greater investment and more UK jobs.

As for the Conservative Party writing to me, I shall not be voting for them in the next election  – I have taken the decision to retire overseas.

What do you think of George Osborne’s Budget?