Fraser Nelson

The pressure’s on Osborne

The pressure's on Osborne
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The Times tempted fate today with its splash boasting about the confidence and the strong pound. Fitch Ratings has today said that Britain’s AAA debt rating is more at risk than that of any other major nation because it needs “the largest budget adjustment” - ie, the most cuts - because Britain has the largest fiscal mess, and by some margin. (Sterling is off today on the news).

But then Fitch says, more or less, that it’s banking on George Osborne’s first budget to sort the mess out. “Our stable rating outlook reflected our expectation that the U.K. government will articulate a stronger fiscal consolidation program next year.” The Conservatives should be proud of that verdict, but also anxious. They have been talking to the debt rating agencies (Fitch, S&P etc) and given them informal indications of how much they would cut the deficit by. I suspect that these agencies have been given more detail than the public has (or the rest of the Shadow Cabinet for that matter). If Osborne falls short of their expectations, then a big downgrade will follow his budget. So yes, Osborne may well be keeping Britain’s AAA rating safe. But that means it’s his to lose.