Tag Archives: Foreign aid

Signs and signals

24 Apr

Last Friday Phillip Hammond, our esteemed Chancellor of the Exchequer, indicated that after June 8th he would be free to raise both income tax and VAT. Theresa May declared that she would be ending the triple lock which secures the value of state pensions. She also said that the foreign aid budget would remain at the current level.

Now the possibility of raising taxes is in marked contrast with the manifesto promises of George Osbourne, and I genuinely salute him for his honesty. We can presume that taxes will be raised because he wouldn’t have said such a potentially damaging thing without making plans.

Theresa May’s statement about pensions could possibly alienate a fair number of Tory voters. The commitment to foreign aid spending is a little more curious. This spending is a favourite target of the right wing press and Mrs May normally pays close attention to their agenda. So the question that needs to be asked is why this is being maintained.

In order to do quick trade deals with countries once we exit the EU we need to offer sweeteners. It seems fairly clear that Mrs May offered access to the NHS for US health insurance companies as just this kind of sweetener. Her problem is that he areas remaining unprivatised are few and far between. The family silver has already been sold off to speculators.

It would not be too difficult to arrange part of the foreign aid budget to be used for developments which would help to sweeten trade deals. Such help is normally of the brown envelope kind. And this is necessary because the reality of doing trade deals is that they are not fair and even, in no way a level playing field.

BrownEnvelope

I was told that I was cynical for thinking this, but will I be proved right?