Philip Hammond has become the Brexit bogeyman parents use to frighten Brexiteer babies

The head of the WTO says no deal won't be a walk in the park so of course there will be fiscal consequences, but Tory Europhobes have rounded on the chancellor for forecasting how much

James Moore
Chief Business Commentator
Friday 24 August 2018 10:14
Philip Hammond refuses to say whether he thinks Brexit 'is worth it'

Chancellor Philip Hammond is the bogeyman Brexiteer parents use to frighten their children at bedtime. Behave or he’ll get you with one of his frightening forecasts.

“Mummy! Mummy! I’m scared. That’s really him there outside the window, and he’s warning of fiscal consequences and £80bn of extra borrowing if there’s no deal.”

“Now don’t you worry your sweet little head, Sixtus. There’s no need for you to lose any sleep. We’ve got our pitchforks ready and we’re going outside to join the mob. We’ll show that fear-mongering blighter a thing or two.”

Brexit secretary Dominic Raab painted a frankly astonishing picture with the government’s Brexit papers. His documents warned of everything from a credit card tax to a mass of new bureaucracy. Firms will have to hire customs brokers and acres of new warehouse space. We might even face a donated sperm shortage.

But because he said it really won’t be too terrible and you’ll still be able to scoff BLT sandwiches – and because he’s one of the Brexit boys – he was only telling it like it is.

Hammond, in a letter to Treasury Committee chair Nicky Morgan, said the UK will probably have to borrow more to cope with the fiscal hit. The response? The Treasury’s in a “Brexit panic” again. It’s scaremongering from the heart of Remain! Get thee gone Satan!

Please. Moving to trading on WTO terms will bring in a shlock of new tariffs, chaos at customs, delays all over the place. Of course the economy will suffer.

The head of the WTO said as much in a BBC interview this morning. It won’t be the end of the world, he opined, but it won’t be a walk in the park either.

That’s basically what Mr Hammond was saying, only to elicit howls of outrage from the stupid wing of his party, including the rose tinted spectacle wearers who sit alongside him in cabinet and think they can kid people by singing soothing lullabies.

We can debate the economic consequences of a no deal Brexit. We can argue about where they will fall on a spectrum that starts off at ‘bad’ and progresses through ‘awful’, ending up at ‘nightmarish’.

There will be consequences, and that includes fiscal consequences. It couldn’t be any other way.

However it wouldn’t have changed the outcome had the Treasury said we’ll probably need to go cap in hand for the price of an extra couple of Mars bars and a paper copy of the FT. The Brexiteers would still have accused Hammond of scare mongering for his failure to sign up to their mad narrative.

He’s on a hiding to nothing. But if he’s playing “Project Fear”, the Brexiteers are in a game of “Project Fantasy”. We’ll all be the losers if they get their way.

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