Shadow Treasury minister Chris Leslie accused George Osborne of “lashing out in a frenzied way” in his Spectator interview today, accusing the chancellor of “playing party politics” and tossing allegations around “with no evidence”.
Leslie, repeating Ed Miliband and Ed Balls’s calls for a full inquiry, said:
“This is desperate stuff from George Osborne – lashing out in a frenzied way that demeans the office of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It’s now increasingly clear that he isn’t interested in getting to the truth, only in playing party politics and throwing around false allegations with no evidence.
“This is why we need an independent, forensic, public and judge-led inquiry that can rise above party politics. David Cameron and George Osborne need to explain why they have spent the last week desperately trying to resist one.”
In an interview with the Speccie, Osborne sought to lay the blame for the Libor scandal at Labour’s door, as interviewer James Forsyth makes clear:
If exonerating the Bank is his first priority, his second is tying this scandal to the last government. He starts by blaming the regulatory system devised by Brown and Balls for allowing these abuses to happen.
But suddenly, and far more explosively, he moves on to the political efforts to keep Libor low during the financial crisis of 2008:
“As for the role of the Labour government and the people around Gordon Brown – well I think there are questions to be asked of them.”
He starts to discuss reports that those in the Brown circle were pressuring Barclays to manipulate the Libor rate it was paying.
Then he drops a bombshell:
“They were clearly involved and we just haven’t heard the full facts, I don’t think, of who knew what when.”
For Osborne to declare that those around Brown were involved in the efforts to keep Libor down is a remarkable charge, one sure to pour petrol on the political fire raging after it was revealed that ‘senior Whitehall sources’ were behind the pressure on Barclays over Libor.
If Osborne is so certain in his accusations, why not allow a full, judge-led inquiry grill those he’s accused? Given the repeated calls from Miliband and Balls for such an inquiry they don’t fear one – unlike Osborne and Mr Cameron.