George Osborne is looking increasing like one of the most profligate Chancellors of the Exchequer we have ever had, robbing the poor to pay foreign businesses.
- Hinkley Point C nuclear power station £24.5bn
- HS2 (high speed rail link from London to the North £46.2bn
- Trident replacement £23.4bn
All those figures are almost certainly under estimates but still total close on £10obn, nearly enough to run the entire national health service for a year.
Hinkley Point is only possible by bribing the French state-owned EDF electricity company with the promise of £92 Per megawatt-hour (to rise with inflation) which is twice the current wholesale electricity price. And then he promises the Chinese communist government to guarantee a loan. The private sector and bankers have looked at the scheme and won’t touch it.
If Hinkley Point goes ahead Sizewell C in Suffolk is almost certain to follow with a similar price and guarantees. Both these power stations are on low-lying coastal land subject to storms and total surges. Fukushima was safe until the tsunami.
HS2. The need for this project is hotly disputed with campaigners suggesting better ways of improving the rail infrastructure. Osborne has invited Chinese business to tender for work on the project.
Trident. Even the military is questioning whether this would be money well spent. One study of military opinion found “significant concerns about the costs and role of Trident. The funding crisis facing the Ministry of Defence means that spending on nuclear weapons is increasingly seen as unjustifiable when conventional equipment is needed and many in the armed forces have lost their jobs.” It looks like applying a cold war solution to the UK’s defence in a very different world. A US design for the submarines’ power plants is part of the plan.
Why Osborne thinks any of these projects is value for money or the British economy remains a mystery. In his budget this year Osborne cut £12 from the welfare budget.