With death on the streets around the European Union Headquarters building and the Budget shambles at home, it has been a bad week for those of us wanting a remain vote in June’s EU referendum.

The disgusting terrorist atrocities suggest Europe is falling apart under a wave of violence. The events in Brussels come hard upon the migrant crisis where the EU did not cover itself in glory.

People should realise that the economic arguments for staying in the biggest market in the world and the perils of the unknown offered by the Brexiteers, should overwhelm concerns about terrorism and migrants. But after the Chancellor’s bungled budget, will they?

Labour actually edged ahead in one opinion poll and that was even before Iain Duncan Smith resigned. It is a sign that the traditional mid term unpopularity suffered by all governments has come early. People may look at the most senior advocates of remaining in the EU, the Prime Minister and Chancellor, and decide to give them a kicking for the way they are running the UK, rather than think about the dangers of leaving.


Iain Duncan Smith has been a disruptive force in Tory politics for two decades. In the nineties he helped to force the sitting Prime Minister, John Major, the resign and stand again for his own job over Europe. He then became Tory leader in 2003 but showed no signs of avoiding a third successive defeat and was replaced a couple of years later. In government since 2010 he has been on a single-minded crusade to reform the benefits system, so single minded that he clearly has been a nightmare to deal with. Faced with the Chancellor constantly demanding cuts, it is surprising the resignation didn’t come earlier.

Neither Osborne or Duncan Smith have emerged from the events of the last week with much credit. Universal credit is a good idea but it should have been rolled out to over 5 million people by now. The current figure is 200,000. That is failure.

The other failure is George Osborne’s failure to hit any of the targets that he floats at election time to woo the voters. The cap on welfare, reducing the National Debt and the ever receding promise to get the books in surplus by 2020. Even in the Budget it was going to be achieved with some sleight of hand involving Corporation Tax receipts. Now his only hope is a booming economy will fill in the four billion pound black hole.

The retreat on things like welfare cuts and the tampon tax can apparently be accommodated according to the Chancellor which begs the question why disabled people were put through the ringer in the first place.

The one nation Tory Party theme is holed below the water line. The true face of George Osborne was shown in that nasty jibe about abolishing the Lib Dems. Pride always comes before a fall and whilst the Lib Dems are on a long journey back, Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of the budget crisis (not overdoing the point scoring) may ensure a better set of election results in May than he could have hoped for a few weeks ago.


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