Simon Carr: Our smug Chancellor finds the currency crisis rickly amusing

 

Click to follow
The Independent Online

George Osborne was so relaxed, so smiley; even the subcutaneous sneer had sunk out of sight.

Alistair Darling asked him if this bailout thing was proper money or the sort of "sophisticated financial instrument that caused the trouble in the first place".

"It's a sophisticated financial instrument," the Chancellor smiled. And everyone smiled.

If you saw him like this at a party you'd say it was a triumph of the pharmacologist's art. No, it's the euro-quake giving him this ease and poise. A monetary crisis is the Chancellor's equivalent of ecstasy.

He's loving it. It's a perfect storm for George in that it's not his fault, it's a distraction from his domestic difficulties, he can assign the blame to it for any local failures of growth and it's all about his opponents coming to grief in a way he always said they would.

But can he control the momentum it's given his own sceptics? Bill Cash pulled out their Big Bazooka: if fiscal union happens, "in what way does that not represent fundamental change?" And therefore require a referendum.

Cameron's position is that if no powers are transferred to Brussels then no vote. Will that hold?

Could the Chancellor assure Christopher Chope the Financial Transaction Tax was "dead in the water"? Nein. George, he says, wouldn't let us be sucked into that.

But Bernard Jenkin has pointed out Brussels can put VAT on all financial transactions. We'd have no veto. Even when the project is tottering it has an awesome reach.

Comments