Skip to Content

Coffee House Steerpike

Listen: John McDonnell fails the numbers test

23 November 2017

9:12 AM

23 November 2017

9:12 AM

It’s something of a terrifying thought, but if Labour defeat the Tories at the next election, John McDonnell will be the new occupant of No.11 Downing Street. One of his main roles as chancellor will be to have a grasp of the numbers that matter. But it seems that may be too much to ask from McDonnell.

On the Today programme, he was quizzed on the amount it costs Britain to service its debt. Given that Labour wants to up borrowing, this seems like a particularly important thing for the shadow chancellor to know. Unfortunately, it would seem he doesn’t have a clue. McDonnell initially tried to bat the question away by saying that being asked that was a ‘trite form of journalism’. ‘That’s why we have iPads and that’s why we have advisers etc’, he added. Unfortunately for McDonnell that approach didn’t work:

Mishal Husain: How much would it add to the servicing costs each year (to borrow more money)?

John McDonnell: It is minimal.

MH: What is minimal?

JM: Minimal. We are literally looking at it paying for itself…

MH: What is the figure?

JM: (pause)…I am telling you it pays for itself.

MH: You’ve also said it is minimal, I am wondering what the figure is. Do you know?

JM: It pays for itself…

Oh dear…

Show comments