St George, the patron saint of the IMF, came into the Commons on his very own day to explain the mystery of money to the nation. It was, Osborne said, his patriotic duty to give billions to those feckless, unreformed, insolvent continentals, to do anything else would be "a betrayal".
Why? We had been bailed by the IMF ourselves at one stage (Tory cries of "Shame!" And "Shocking!"). We had to prepare the IMF for the worst that could happen. We would not "turn our back on the world". We had to keep Britain safe. We would NEVER join the Euro. It wasn't a loan, it was an investment. The money would never find its way into the euro bail-out fund as we were backing "countries not currencies".
Among these disparate propositions the Chancellor's most interesting claim was that this was a surefire transaction, it couldn't go wrong, we'd get the money back with interest. So why not lend them more (everyone else is)? If we're making on the deal – and it's guaranteed – why not make it £100bn? He'd never get it through the Commons is the truth of it, it must be too good to be true.
It was funny at least watching MPs pretending to understand what a "dollar swap balance of $80bn" meant. It's easy to believe they know but with very few exceptions they don't.
The interesting questions are the ones ordinary people can understand. "If the EU won't accept the risks of the institution it has created, what's the moral case for Britain and poorer countries bailing it out?" That was from Steve McCabe.
The interesting question we couldn't understand came from Ed Balls. Why were we allowing the IMF to become the de facto bank of Europe because rich euro countries wouldn't act? The way he put it he was wanting the eurozone to cut further and faster.
"A minute is a long time in politics," Christopher Pincher suggested. No doubt. But at least IMF is now set up for "the worst that can happen". Pause for hollow laughter.Reuse content