The Chancellors: Managing the British Economy in Crisis Times by Howard Davies


Polity Press
22 May 2022

When the Treasury lost control of interest rates to the Bank of England in 1997, its status looked under threat. However, it quickly reasserted its power by dominating policy-making across Whitehall and diminishing other ministries in the process. It also successfully fought off attempts by Prime Ministers, from Blair to Johnson, to cut it down to size.

In this fascinating insider account, based on in-depth interviews with the Chancellors and key senior officials, Howard Davies shows how the last 25 years have nonetheless been a roller-coaster ride for the Treasury. Heavily criticised for its response to the financial crisis, and for the rigours of the austerity programme, it also ran into political controversy through its role in the Scottish referendum and the Brexit debate. The Treasury’s dire predictions of the impact of Brexit have not been borne out. Redemption of a kind, though a costly one, came from its muscular response to the COVID crisis.

Anyone with an interest in economic policy-making, in the UK and elsewhere, will find this a valuable and entertaining account.

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