Daily Archives: February 20, 2013

It was an awkward moment for George Osborne this morning when the results of the 4G broadband auction appeared. The sale has raised just £2.3bn – against an estimate of £3.5bn which had been factored into the government’s accounts for this year.

That missing £1bn may be a drop in the ocean compared to the £212bn of extra borrowing which the coalition is having to make compared to its ambitious 2010 forecasts.

Yet the figure is of fierce political significance. That is because it could make the difference to whether the deficit is rising or falling this year.

Two months ago Ed Balls accused the Treasury of manipulating the public borrowing figures by taking account of 4G spectrum proceeds before the auction had taken place.

That, you may recall, was the reason for his stumbling performance when he responded in the autumn statement in December. Balls simply couldn’t believe that the chancellor had been able to say that the deficit was still going down and not up. Read more

Andrew MitchellAs Andrew Mitchell begins to emerge from the shadows of the “plebgate” row, talk has turned to whether he could be brought back into the cabinet, or perhaps be given another plum government job.

The latest talk is that the former chief whip is one of two candidates (alongside Peter Lilley) under consideration to become the UK’s next EU commissioner when Cathy Ashton steps down next year.

Mitchell has not said anything in public about whether he would want to take the job. But his comment piece in this morning’s FT gives us some idea about what kind of agenda he would pursue if he was selected. Read more