Good morning. Here’s your daily politics briefing.
What will be in Hammond’s budget?
It could be a rocky start to the chancellor’s week, as he shoulders the responsibility of finding ways to reassure the Commons and the country that ‘austerity is over’, as was promised by Theresa May.
So far, we already know the budget will continue to freeze fuel duty, and leaked information from the Treasury has suggested that the budget will contain ‘giveaways’ in order to keep up the austerity is over message.
Theresa May has already promised an extra £20bn per year for the NHS, with some of it expected to be covered with money saved post-Brexit that would have gone to the EU. However, this will not pay the whole bill, leaving Hammond’s speech on Monday to address the rest of the cost.
The Evening Standard seems to suspect that extra spending will be funded by way of a ‘tax grab’ from pensioners. The paper conducted its own poll, in which 71 percent of respondents were against the idea of a tax raid.
Though he told the BBC two weeks ago that he “may have to raise a little more tax” to give the NHS its extra funding, Hammond is less likely to use a tax hike to get his money after the OBR cut their forecast for borrowing down to £13bn for the year. In addition, the treasury’s tax receipts have ended up 4.4 percent higher year-on-year, which the chancellor will no doubt highlight proudly.
However, the Evening Standard poll also found that two thirds of voters say spending on public services should increase, and with an increased pressure from the public and MPs to increase spending – on the NHS in particular – a drastic measure from the chancellor could be on the cards on Monday.
Read more: What will be in Hammond’s budget?
Sadiq tells EU: Get ready to push back Brexit date
London Mayor Sadiq Khan had told the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier that he should prepare to postpone Brexit Day, as talks have reached ‘crunch time’. Arriving for the meeting in Brussels on Friday, Khan told reporters: “We are entering crunch time in the negotiations and what happens over the coming weeks and months will have an enormous impact on London, the UK and all of Europe for many decades to come.
“So I am here today in Brussels to urge Michel Barnier to get the EU and the 27 other EU member states to start preparing to extend article 50.”
Khan’s trip came a day after Barnier was visited by Liberal Democrats leader Vince Cable, who told him that the EU should start preparing for the eventually of a ‘People’s Vote’ – giving the public a final say on the Brexit deal reached by Theresa May.
Last weekend, the People’s Vote campaign saw 670,000 people descend upon London, in a demonstration which marked by far the biggest against the current state of Brexit negotiations. Both Sadiq Khan and Vince Cable were in attendance at the event.
Philip Green and the use of Parliamentary privilege
On Friday, Sir Philip Green was named by Lord Peter Hain, former Labour MP, as the man who had taken out several injunctions against The Telegraph newspaper, preventing them from publishing sexual harassment allegations which had been made against him.
Green, who last year presided over the BHS scandal, making millions as the business plummeted, was named by Lord Hain under parliamentary privilege, which allows MPs to speak freely about confidential matters, without being liable for defamation.
The revelation around Green’s alleged misconduct marks the third time Lord Hain has used this privilege, and he claims on this occasion he used it “after deep consideration.” The first time Hain used this was to expose arms dealers flying weapons to Sierra Leone, which were at one point used to attack British soldiers there, and the second was to expose some of the goings on under President Zuma’s corrupt presidency.
Lord Hain’s use of privilege has now reignited the debate between parliament and judiciary, with the latter now claiming it undermines the rule of law. In addition, Hain’s motives may not be entirely pure – it emerged on Friday that Hain is a paid adviser to Gordon Dadds LLP, who were hired by the Telegraph to solve the issue of Green’s injunction.
Hain said on Friday: “Gordon Dadds … played absolutely no part whatsoever in either the sourcing of my information or my independent decision to name Sir Philip. They were completely unaware of my intentions until after I spoke in the House of Lords.”
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