Some things George Osborne has said about the AAA credit rating

It looks increasingly likely that Britain will lose its AAA credit rating, with Standard & Poor’s putting Britain’s credit rating on negative outlook. When asked about this yesterday, George Osborne said “It wouldn’t be a good thing. But it’s one test, alongside others” – but that’s not what he’s said in the past.

Here are some things that George Osborne has said about the UK’s credit rating in the past:

1. When Britain was first put on negative outlook by Standard and Poor’s in 2009 George Osborne (then in opposition) called for an early general election:

“It’s now clear that Britain’s economic reputation is on the line at the next general election, another reason for bringing the date forward and having that election now… For the first time since these ratings began in 1978, the outlook for British debt has been downgraded from stable to negative.”

2. In May last year George Osborne claimed that moving off negative outlook proved that Britain had “economic stability”:

“Our credit rating had been put on negative watch. Now, however, thanks to the policies of this coalition Government, Britain has economic stability again.”

3. George Osborne has said safeguarding the rating was his “first benchmark” and a “measure of success”. He has also warned that a credit rating downgrade would be “humiliating” and that it is “absolutely essential” that Britain does not have one:

“Our first benchmark is to cut the deficit more quickly to safeguard Britain’s credit rating. I know that we are taking a political gamble to set this up as a measure of success. Protecting the credit rating will not be easy… The pace of fiscal consolidation will be co-ordinated with monetary policy. And we will protect Britain’s credit rating and international reputation.” – 2 February 2010

“I have argued it with my opponents in difficult economic times, when I warned them last autumn that the cupboard was bare and the discretionary borrowing had to stop – and now Britain faces the humiliating possibility of losing its international credit rating.” – 11 August 2009

“Of course the British government needs to be able to get its debt away, and by the way it’s not just in the City, you need to get it away around the world and that’s where a lot of international investors in British, in gilts, and indeed, as I’ve talked about actually in the Times today, you know, one of the things I’m very keen on doing, and that’s putting it mildly, is to preserve Britain’s international credit rating. You know it’s absolutely essential we don’t have the downgrade that hangs over the country at the moment.” – 8 October 2009

“What investor is going to come to the UK when they fear a downgrade of our credit-rating and a collapse of confidence?” – 27 February 2010

This is all going to look pretty embarrassing if/when Britain loses the AAA rating…

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