Peter Hoskin

Will Brown ever come clean about the liabilities we face?

Will Brown ever come clean about the liabilities we face?
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Well done the Treasury Select Committee, who are today calling on Brown 'n' Darling to release quarterly accounts showing just how much the banking bailout is costing the taxpayer.  It's an absolutely crucial demand - not just for the sake of accountability and transparency, but also to reassure creditors and investors that the Government has anything like a clue of what's going on.  Failure to meet it could make credit rating agencies even warier of the UK economy - and, in turn, that could cause the situation to nosedive even further.

Thing is, I doubt that will worry Brown; for whom short-term political gain generally trumps what's right for the economy.  As Fraser stressed yesterday, our PM's a natural at Enron-style accounting - he's already swept £billions of public debt under the fiscal carpet, and he can't even bring himself to admit the loss to the taxpayer from RBS's falling share price - so he's hardly going to be inclined to come clean now.  Indeed, I wouldn't be too surprised if he's quite pleased at the banks' reluctance - or inability - to reveal the full extent of their toxic debts.  It gives him a ready-made excuse not to tell us anything about what we're in for.