Belfast Telegraph

George Osborne 's not for turning even if we're careering off the road

By David Prosser

George Osborne was talking tough yesterday, with a nod to the heroine (Mrs Thatcher) whose name he dare not mention in public in case it upsets the voters.

"We will not be blown off course by the weather," he boldly proclaimed, as the economy nosedived into a tailspin. Because, while it us certainly true that the cold snap had an impact on the UK's GDP growth in the fourth quarter, economists had already factored that in when they forecast anaemic growth of about 0.4%. Even if the snow had stayed away, the ONS said growth would have badly undershot that - if GDP grew at all. It seems there is something much nastier going on in the economy than a bit of cold weather.

And that's not the worst of it. These figures cover the period before the Government's spending cuts, announced last year, really start to bite. The VAT rise to 20% will take even more money out of the pockets of consumers.

But the laddie's not for turning.

There is no doubt action needs to be taken to reduce Britain's gargantuan budget deficit. But the trouble is that the Government appears to have adopted, in the words of one economist yesterday, a "satnav approach" to policy, like one of those old-style machines that had people driving into rivers for a most unwelcome (double) dip.

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