As fellow Tories say he’s finished as chancellor, should George Osborne rip up last week’s Budget and start again?

The Chancellor Presents The Final Budget Before The 2015 General Election
Does he need to start again? (Source: Getty)

Ben Southwood, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute, says Yes.

Though the country could do without yet more marquee financial policy events, economic gimmicks and ill-considered policy changes, George Osborne’s latest Budget was bad enough that he should consider ripping it up and starting again. Glossing over the practical political costs – centred around Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation over the disability cuts – the key issue is how Osborne’s Budgets have steadily become more and more like those of his predecessor-but-one. Like Gordon Brown’s, Osborne’s have become a mess of economically unfounded giveaways and complicating tinkering without a clear rationale. Why are major education policy changes being announced in the Budget? Where is the link between Libor fines and air ambulances? And why do policies so often fail to join up: witness the continual raises in the personal allowance while workers still pay national insurance on incomes of just £8,060 and above. Osborne has not been an economist’s chancellor. But by doing 2016’s Budget over again, perhaps he can inject some needed sense into the UK’s economic administration.

Chris Rumfitt, founder and chief executive of Field Consulting, says No.

Make no mistake about it, George Osborne’s political future is hanging by a thread. He has never been loved within the Conservative Party and his support has always relied upon his reputation as a great strategist. Until recently, that looked like it might be enough to see him into Number 10 when David Cameron steps aside, but the shambles of last week’s Budget leave Osborne’s reputation in tatters. Yet the right answer is not to rip the Budget up. He’s lanced the boil of the disability benefits cuts now and, frankly, he might as well resign as ditch the rest of the financial plan, such would be the impact on his credibility. If there is a route to political recovery, it lies in slowly rebuilding a reputation for economic and political competence. An unshowy programme of boring delivery and relationship-building on the backbenches. He recovered from the 2012 omnishambles in this way. It’s a long shot, but he could just do it again.

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