Budget makes a mockery of '˜in it together'

The cat is out of the bag. The prime minister and the chancellor have now been exposed by a former Conservative leader as playing politics with people's lives.

Thursday, 24th March 2016, 4:00 pm

Their arbitrary economic targets seem to be about clearing the way for the chancellor to move into 10 Downing Street. That bird has flown.

The devastating verdict of Iain Duncan Smith was, as myself and other Labour MPs have argued for six years, that it makes a mockery of the tattered Tory slogan that we are all in it together.

Cuts to the most vulnerable were agreed to make it easier to give tax breaks to the wealthier.

The budget was also designed to avoid issues that complicate matters for the Tories before the referendum on EU membership.

I also want to stay in the EU, but the budget is or should be a serious and self-standing package of measures for the national interest.

Instead, the budget has been treated like some take-away menu, with the main dishes changing on a daily basis.

This dog’s dinner has reduced politics to a series of public school stunts and gimmicks. It is amateur hour and there is a strong case for Osborne resigning.

There is also a strong case for putting them all out of their misery and moving to an early election.

But first, let’s make sure we have a serious debate about EU membership and why we need to stay.