Apr 19

What happened to the UK Treasury’s neutrality?

The Treasury’s warning of the “permanent economic damage” that a vote to
leave the EU would cause the UK reported in the lead article of today’s
Financial Times continues a worrying trend, first seen in last year’s
referendum on Scottish independence, towards the politicisation of the
Treasury.

Whatever one’s views on these referenda, it is a matter of concern that the
principle of civil service neutrality is gradually being undermined.
Instead, the Treasury is slowly metamorphosing into an instrument of
pro-government propaganda supporting the established order. No reputable
City or academic economic research agency would attempt to do what the
Treasury now claims to have done, of giving “objective” forecasts for the
British economy as far out as 2030. It is impossible to anticipate what
impact the UK’s trading relationships might have 15 years in the future on
factors that are inherently uncertain, such as the rate of innovation and
new business formation. Yet the Treasury has endeavoured to do precisely
that on the basis of a series of highly tendentious assumptions.

Michael Nevin
Financial Times, April 19 2016

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