Cover of MoneyWeek magazine issue no 738

Bye bye Britain

16 April 2015 / Issue 738

All the political parties are rolling out policy after policy that will directly hurt the City. But these attacks will damage the UK, says Matthew Lynn. Read this week's cover story here.

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Merryn Somerset WebbEDITOR'S LETTER

Merryn Somerset Webb

Britain’s ticking time bomb

There’s a newish and very nasty drug out there. It’s called Devil’s Breath (or Scopolamine) and it is, according to everyone who talks or writes about it, “the scariest drug in the world”. That’s because one whiff of it turns people into zombies: they stay cogent to an outside view, but “their free will vanishes”, along with their memory.

That’s made it handy in the past for Cold War-era security services looking for confessions, but it’s also made it a dream come true for criminals.

The drug comes from Colombia, where the US State Department reckons there are 50,000 Scopolamine “incidents” a year. But I gather it has now started to be used in Tokyo, where a few cocktail-swilling foreign fund managers have come round the next morning to find their credit cards rather more well used than usual.

They’ve been taken to shops where they have been made to splurge hundreds of thousands of yen on easily resalable goods they didn’t want and aren’t going to see any benefit from anyway. They can remember nothing.

So here’s the question. Has something of this sort happened to George Osborne and David Cameron? Because they seem to have spent an awful lot of money and forgotten all about it.

The coalition took over promising a resolution to the UK’s hideous financial problems. And to listen to the Tories talk today about their “rescue” of our economy, you might think they had offered something of the sort. But look at the numbers and you will see that it just isn’t so.

• Read the full editor’s letter here: Britain’s ticking time bomb