EU referendum: George Osborne's bold claim

(L-R) Vince Cable, George Osborne and Ed Balls Image copyright PA

The chancellor made a characteristically bold assertion today, that the central argument in the EU referendum campaign is essentially settled.

He told an audience of Ryanair cabin crew, suited and booted in their blue and gold uniforms, and the assembled media that the economic debate about whether or not we'd be better or worse off if we left the EU is "over", saying it's time to "stop pretending". More to the point, his rivals on the other side are "conspiracists" who are reaching for more and more crazy theories to try to make their case.

Just in case you hadn't got the point that the Remain campaign is trying to show they have the weight of opinion on their side he brought along his old nemesis Ed Balls, his old lib Dem foe and colleague, Sir Vince Cable, and today, made all the arguments in front of a very shiny new Ryanair jet branded with the 'safer, stronger' slogans of the Remain campaign.

Oh, and for good measure, the Treasury have added some more claims to the fraught debate over statistics that £200bn would be lost from trade by 2030 if we go.

It is absolutely true that the weight of established economic opinion would agree with the chancellor that the UK economy would suffer somewhat, at least in the short term, as the UK tried to make its way outside the EU.

But it is also true that there are economists and businesses, smaller in number but significant nonetheless, who disagree. And indeed, swathes of the Conservative Party dispute it too. For Mr Osborne, Sir Vince Cable and Ed Balls the economic case is crystal clear, but the politics for the Tories is certainly not so straightforward.

Just as the chancellor is trying to claim victory in the economic debate his colleagues on the other side like Boris Johnson are digging in, characterising the debate as nothing less than a struggle between fat cats and the common man.

George Osborne can claim the economic debate is over, but voters will decide who and what they want to hear.

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