Socialist Worker

George Osborne’s reign of austerity is over—at least for fat cat bosses

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2511

Is Osborne throwing some final gifts to his City mates before he gets the boot?

Is Osborne throwing some final gifts to his City mates before he gets the boot? (Pic: wikicommons)

Tory chancellor George Osborne revealed on Monday his response to Brexit—a tax giveaway for the bosses.

In an interview with the Financial Times newspaper, he said he would cut the corporation tax rate to just 15 percent.

That’s down from the current rate of 20 percent and the planned cut to 17 percent announced in March—and less than half the rate under former Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Based on current receipts this would be a bonanza of more than £11 billion for the bosses.

It would make for what Osborne calls a “super-competitive” economy where big businesses pay barely more than the 12.5 percent charged in tax haven Ireland.

But Osborne’s authority is in tatters after he admitted last week there was no chance of eliminating the deficit by 2020.

Tory leadership hopeful Theresa May echoed the retreat.This arguably breaks the “fiscal charter” Osborne launched to much pomp last year.

And it means the Tory government has given up on the project that justified all its attacks since 2010—the promise that it would balance the budget.

Osborne and other leading Tories still want to slash public services, welfare, wages and pensions. But the fiscal retreat weakens their basis for doing so.

It confirms what was already clear—that Osborne’s projections and forecasts for the economy were just made up numbers.

The admission that the money is there to throw at the bosses is a chance to demand it goes to working class people’s needs instead.

Their disorderly retreats are our chance

Austerity isn’t the only Tory policy to be damaged by the Leave vote.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced last week that a decision on airport expansion around London, due this month, would be delayed until “at least October”.

It’s the latest in a series of delays. Business has long lobbied for an environmentally disastrous extra runway, with Heathrow airport as a frontrunner.

The Tories would love to give it to them. But it has long been a source of division in their ranks.

Theresa May, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Zac Goldsmith all have constituencies that could be affected by noise and pollution from extra flights.

Meanwhile the Le Touquet treaty that sees France guard Britain’s border from refugees is coming increasingly under fire.

Leading French Tory and likely presidential election candidate Alain Juppe this week became the most senior politician to call for scrapping it.

“We must move the border back to where it belongs,” he said.

This opens a breach in the border regime and helps campaigners demanding that the refugees in Calais are allowed into Britain.

Theresa May had long called for Britain to pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights (EHRC) even if it stayed in the EU.

But as part of her leadership bid she dropped the signature right wing pledge.

With the Tories on the back foot, now is the time to hit them hard and win gains for our side.

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