Gordon Brown knows how to deliver a budget. His last financial statement in the House of Commons on Wednesday contained the usual bullish economic optimism (of course) and a surprise: a cut in the basic rate of income tax.
So much we know. For all the criticism of Mr Brown’s personal style, his macro-economic record in the UK is envied by many in Europe. But can Mr Brown, prime minister-in-waiting, translate his economic standing into real influence in Brussels?
There are signs that Mr Brown is starting to take Europe more seriously. His lieutenant, Treasury minister Ed Balls, has been a regular visitor to Brussels projecting a less abrasive face than that usually seen from the chancellor’s camp.