Wednesday 16 October 2019

Take me to your bosom, Mama Europe

Is it any wonder we said Oui? What were we going to say to Europe? We have full confidence in the people who are governing us. We'll stick with them thanks? No, instead it was more of a plea. Will someone come and take us over please? Anyone? We don't care if you're European and we don't trust you. You'll do.

Unleashing the latest exchequer figures on an unsuspecting public yesterday was clearly a cunning stunt by the Government aimed at making us all run for the relative safety of Europe. Much as we don't have any great love for the Germans in this country, they couldn't make more of a balls of things than this.

The key message in yesterday's figures was this: Despite the fact that the Government has already had an extra budget and slashed the hell out of everything in order to keep the books balanced this year, they are still going to be borrowing 10pc more than even the adjusted borrowing figure.

Essentially, any money the state got from the supplementary budget, where we all got screwed yet again, is gone. The supplementary budget will just about make up for the fall in the tax take. So we are really no closer to sorting out our mess than we were, and all the pain has merely been running to stand still.

Is it any wonder such a high percentage of us are waving our knickers at Johnny Foreigner asking them to come rescue us?

You could say in their defence that the Government can't help it if tax is falling in unexpected ways. How can they control that the Vat take has collapsed, and will make up for the majority of the shortfall in the tax take? Except it actually is their fault. Because you will recall that they were the very dummies who went fiddling with Vat.

At a time when economic activity was grinding to a halt, when shops (and our nearest neighbours) were all slashing their prices just to keep cash moving around, our geniuses put the price of everything up by increasing Vat. And sure enough the people responded by shopping less.

A child could have told the Government at that point that if they cut Vat it would have increased the tax take because people would have spent money.

But no, they increased Vat and as a result it's going to be a billion below target for the year. And those weren't exactly ambitious targets. Maybe now they are learning a lesson. This is what you get if you kill off economic activity until you reduce the country to a wasteland.

No wonder, as a country, we ran off with a charming Spanish waiter this weekend. Our anger at the Government's incompetence didn't cause us to vote No, it caused us to vote Yes. So, in a strange way, take a bow today Brian Cowen, Brian Lenihan, Mary Coughlan, John O'Donoghue, the board of Fas and all the rest of you who made Yes the only sensible answer.

Sunday Independent

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