Since the referendum David Cameron has acted with great dignity and statesmanship; the same cannot be said of the Chancellor. The prime minister immediately did the right thing and resigned having realised his position is untenable. George Osborne has clearly been figuring out how we can protect his own position or secure a job in the next government. The man has no shame.
In their campaign of fear and lies Osborne and Cameron were in it together, theydemeaned the country they are supposed to lead and inspire; yet Osborne refuses to do the decent thing. Cameron has exuded a sense of calm since the vote and spoken about “getting the best deal we can” and even made recommendations, Osborne still seems to be fighting a lost campaign.
Along with his friend and mentor of the “dark arts” Peter Mandelson, Osborne masterminded “project fear”; the relentless campaign to intimidate the British people into submission. The man in charge of our economy has spent months deliberately talking it down and convincing the world it was at risk of collapse. Our Chancellor has committed an act of self-harm in his zealous quest to exploit our anxieties. Having lied, manipulated and dissembled he has brought shame to his office and proven beyond doubt he is no longer fit for the job.
During the campaign Osborne forgot his responsibilities as Chancellor and showed himself willing to damage the economy by deliberately fomenting uncertainty and prophesising catastrophe. This has aggravated the economic fallout in the aftermath. He wasted £9million of taxpayer’s money on pro-EU leaflets and converted the Treasury into a partisan propaganda machine. He pressed public officials to publish dodgy dossiers predicting economic doom if we left the EU. This can only have increased the cynicism that the public feel towards politicians and damaged the reputation of the Treasury.
For the entire first weekend after the referendum, with the markets panicking, George Osborne apparently went into hiding. We needed him to offer reassurance and some indication that the Treasury was prepared. When Osborne finally appeared he made it “very clear” that the country would be poorer following the people’s decision to leave the EU. In an interview with Nick Robinson on the Today programme, he repeated his pre-referendum threat of a tax increases and spending cuts. Instead of offer reassurance he is making the situation worse and rather than revealing contingence plans he has petulantly insisted that “it was not the responsibility of those who wanted to remain in the EU to explain what plan we would follow if we voted to quit the EU.” This is the second most powerful man in our government abdicating responsibility.
With that, it became abundantly clear that he could no longer perform his role as Chancellor and was incapable of restoring economic confidence. With this man in charge project fear will be a self-fulfilling prophesy.
We now know that Wolfgang Schäuble issued his warning giving the impression that we couldn’t participate in the Single Market if we left the EU at the behest of George Osborne. I have no doubt that in time we will find out that the Chancellor spent the months before the referendum making many calls and pulling in favours in order to boost his fear mongering campaign. Just think about that! A British Chancellor appealing for authoritative institutions and economists to warn that the British economy was weak and risked collapse outside the EU. Has there ever been a Chancellor so aggressive in his desire to run his own country down?
Remainers now point to our current economic turmoil as proof that they were right all along, but it was always inevitable that a political decision of this magnitude, with such huge potential for change, was going to cause economic uncertainty and short term pain. Now we need people in government to restore confidence and map out the future. The Chancellor who has been actively sabotaging our economy is the wrong man for the job. There should be no place for him in government.
Osborne took a huge gamble with a scorched Earth policy, he lost; and we are now suffering the consequences. Now he must go. It is too late to do the honourable thing now, but he can at least finally do the right thing and signal his intent to leave office when the next Conservative leader is elected.
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty