An unpopular budget could see the referendum become an opportunity to kick the government and that’s not good news for Remain.
I’m not a fan of plebiscites simply because often they become a referendum not on the substantive issue of the referendum but a referendum on the Government of the day and an opportunity to give the government a kicking without the risk of a change of government.
During the AV referendum, it seemed the primary reason many voters voted to reject AV was to give Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems a kicking. If the voters had decided to focus on the merits of the Alternative Voting system the 2015 general election might well have been conducted under AV and not First Past The Post.
This year’s budget is scheduled to be held three months before the referendum, as we saw with last summer’s budget and the 2012 omnishambles budget, the damaging legacy of a budget can last long after the budget has been delivered.
With George Osborne saying last month the economic headwinds aren’t going in the UK’s favour, a few days ago the borrowing figures were not moving in Osborne’s favour and with pension experts like Alastair Meeks forecasting Osborne is hoping to raid pension pots without you noticing and you can see this being a very unpopular budget as Osborne has to raises taxes, and that’s before you take into account Osborne’s poor personal ratings.
So if it is an unpopular budget, the referendum gives voters an opportunity to express their displeasure, and if Remain wants to win, they need Labour voters to turnout and back remain, an unpopular budget isn’t the best way to ensure that happens. Since the election the government appears to have gone out of its way to annoy voters, including their own supporters, so this budget might well be a continuation of that tin ear approach as Corbyn insulates them from general election unpopularity.
Often budgets are hyped up as the most important budget ever, this year’s budget might actually live up to the hype if it effects the outcome of the EU referendum. So no pressure George, The United Kingdom’s continued membership of the European Union is in your hands. Though as we saw in 2007 he can be brilliant, so much so that Gordon Brown cancelled the election that never was, and the Tories won last year in part because of Osborne’s stewardship of the economy,