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Autumn Statement 1) Hammond pledges billions to close productivity gap

MANIFESTO money“Productivity in Britain is so poor that it takes UK workers five days to produce what Germans make in four, the Chancellor admitted yesterday. Announcing billions of pounds to tackle the issue, Philip Hammond said Britain’s ‘productivity gap’ was ‘well known, but shocking nonetheless’. Mr Hammond told the House of Commons that the UK ‘lags behind’ the US and Germany by 30 per cent – meaning workers are nearly one-third less productive than their counterparts in those countries. UK productivity is also lower than in France and Italy.” – Daily Mail

  • The Chancellor builds for Brexit – The Times (£)
  • A £23bn pledge to boost rail, roads, and homes – The Times (£)
  • Hammond puts £200m into May’s grammar school plan – The Sun
  • Government announces £390m investment in car industry – Daily Telegraph
  • New fund to drive technological innovation – FT
  • Boost for low-paid with Living Wage hike – The Sun
  • Devolution takes a £1.8bn step forward – The Times (£)
  • Scotland gets £800m but tax forecasts fall sharply – Daily Telegraph
  • Northern Irish infrastructure gets £250m boost – Belfast Telegraph
  • Extra 2,500 guards in prisons by 2020 – The Sun
  • Tech start-ups protected from foreign predators – The Times (£)
  • Freeze on fuel duty hailed – The Sun

Sketch:

  • By his own morose standards Hammond was positively skittishly optimistic – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • Economy on a bumpy ride requires the most careful of drivers – Patrick Kidd, The Times (£)
  • How Hammond silenced MPs… then roused them by mocking Boris – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Yes there are risks, but I’m hopeful for the British economy – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail
  • Don’t mistake this for an infrastructure splurge – Nils Pratley, The Guardian
  • The Prime Minister demanded rabbits from hats, even sick ones – Matt Chorley, The Times (£)
  • Hammond has let May chop off his tentacles – Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph

Editorial:

>Today: ToryDiary: Sing along with Big Phil. Reasons to be cheerful. One, two, three…

>Yesterday:

Autumn Statement 2) Public debt pushed to highest levels since 1960s

“Philip Hammond dropped all three of the fiscal rules adopted by his predecessor as he approved extra borrowing which will push public debt to its highest levels since the mid-1960s. The chancellor intends to borrow another £122.2 billion over the next five years. The extra borrowing is equivalent to more than a year’s health service spending and will mean the total government debt will rise to £1.95 trillion by 2022, equivalent to £72,000 per household… All three of George Osborne’s fiscal rules would have been broken if they had remained in place, the Office for Budget Responsibility said.” – The Times (£)

  • Chancellor puts a brave face on brutal forecasts – FT
  • Brexit will blow £59bn hole in public finaces, Chancellor admits – The Guardian
  • Hammond plans corporate tax avoidance crackdown – The Sun
  • Employers hit by £750m raid on National Insurance – Daily Mail
  • Lower paid will sacrifice most in perks reform – The Times (£)
  • Osborne’s shares-for-rights scheme ditched – FT
  • Rip-off energy firms face crackdown – The Sun
  • Taxes on middle-class perks branded an ‘attack on loyalty’ – Daily Mail
  • What it all means for the economy – The Times (£)
  • UK in the red until the 2020s – The Scotsman

Pensions:

  • Hammond orders review of pension triple lock – Daily Mail
  • Tens of thousands face new restrictions on pension saving – FT
  • Brill for buildiers, perturbing for pensioners – The Guardian

The Opposition:

  • No repeat of ‘little red book stunt’ by McDonnell – FT
  • Labour says elderly will suffer for lack of cash – Daily Mail
  • SNP says Statement ignores dangers of Brexit – FT
  • Corbyn defends the last Labour government at PMQs – The Sun
  • MP an unlikely ally to hedge funds – FT

Comment:

  • Time’s up for the triple lock – James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph
  • Pensioners’ victory on triple lock stores up trouble for another day – Anne Ashworth, The Times (£)
  • A reality check for both wings of the Tory Party – Anushka Asthana, The Guardian

Autumn Statement 3) Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Hammond’s fiscal blunder almost guarantees a hard Brexit landing

HAMMOND Carla Guardian“Philip Hammond has succumbed to the fatal caution of the Treasury. A rare chance has been wasted. Britain must now face the full storm of the Brexit downturn next year and the year after without any precautionary buffer worth the name. A hard landing is all but guaranteed. If the Chancellor had wished to launch a barrage of investment on the country’s rickety infrastructure and do something to lift productivity from the bottom ranks of the OECD league, there could scarcely have been a better global climate. All the stars are aligned.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prudence ditched for a spending splurge – Philip Aldrick, The Times (£)
  • A welcome change in policy, five years too late – Stephanie Flanders, FT
  • Brexit Britain needed a radical vision, but Hammond played it safe – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph
  • More continuity than rupture is the Chancellor’s chosen theme – Janan Ganesh, FT
  • Hammond risks being boring, cautious, and underwhelming – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph
  • A fiscal herbivore who fears bigger beasts – Jonathan Guthrie, FT
  • Why didn’t he tackle Britain’s regional imbalance? – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian
  • Our debt appals me, but it’s Osborne’s fault – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • Of course he had to be optimistic… but whatever happened to living within our means? – Max Hastings, Daily Mail

>Yesterday:

Autumn Statement 4) The Chancellor abolishes it

“Philip Hammond’s first autumn statement will also be his last, the chancellor announced yesterday in a significant rejig of the fiscal year. From next year the budget, the government’s main annual financial statement, will be in the autumn, with a smaller spring statement in response to the Office for Budget Responsibility’s economic forecasts. Mr Hammond said that “after careful consideration and detailed discussion with the prime minister” he was “abolishing the autumn statement”.” – The Times (£)

  • A shake-up for the fiscal calendar – Paul Johnson, The Times (£)
  • Hammond’s autumn budget plan makes sense – Jill Rutter, FT
  • McDonnell reacted so poorly, thank goodness the Autumn Statement is going – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Hammond abolishes the Autumn Statement

Autumn Statement 5) Tories accuse OBR of fighting Osborne’s EU battle

EU Exit brexit“During his last Budget speech in March, the then Chancellor George Osborne infuriated Eurosceptic Tory MPs when he suggested the supposedly impartial Office for Budget Responsibility was in favour of remaining in the EU. Osborne was accused of ‘politicising’ the so-called independent OBR when he declared it backed his view that leaving the EU would ‘wreck Britain’s economy’. The OBR, under its chairman Robert Chote, made no effort to contradict the Chancellor. Last night, as the political row intensified over the OBR’s gloomy forecasts, there was a growing view on the Tory benches that Chote is still fighting Osborne’s battles on the EU.” – Daily Mail

  • We’re none the wiser on what Brexit means, OBR claims – The Independent
  • Watchdog wrong on costs of Brexit, MPs insist – The Times (£)
  • Brexiteers’ fury at pessimistic forecast – The Independent
  • Eurosceptics attack ‘doom and gloom’ predictions – Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit supporters demonstrate outside Parliament – The Sun

Comment:

  • The grass is far from greener in the dysfunctional EU – Iain Martin, The Times (£)
  • It turns out the British people did vote to be poorer in June – Philip Aldrick, The Times (£)
  • The wages of Brexit are bigger debts – Martin Wolf, FT

Editorial:

  • So much for the former Chancellor’s emergency post-Brexit budget – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The Autumn Statement – and why forecasting a cost of Brexit is bunk

NATO head tells May European countries must spend more after Trump puts alliance in doubt

“European nations must fall into line with Britain and fulfil their defence spending commitments to avoid souring relations with the US, Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary-general, told Theresa May yesterday. His warning came amid concerns that Donald Trump could scale back America’s commitment to Nato. The US president-elect branded the alliance “obsolete” during the campaign and indicated that the US would not rush to help an ally that did not meet the spending target. “I want to keep Nato, but I want them to pay,” Mr Trump told a rally in Pennsylvania in July.” – The Times (£)

More US:

  • Farage practices for ambassador role – Daily Mail
  • UKIP leader preparing to emigrate to the United States – The Times (£)
  • Labour MP explodes at Brexiteer over claim UK-US trade will be a success – Daily Express

Comment:

  • Britain needs Farage to stay close to Trump’s America – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph

>Today:

>Yesterday:

…as she closes in on ‘reciprocal rights’ deal for British expats in the EU

EU countries and stars“Hundreds of thousands of British expats are set to be granted the right to carry on living on the Continent after Brexit after the majority of European Union countries signalled they were ready to do a “reciprocal rights” deal with the UK. Senior Government figures have told business leaders that only “a few” of the 27 EU member states are left to agree the outline of a reciprocal rights agreement for Britons in the EU, and EU nationals living in this country for when Britain leaves the EU. The Government said no deals had yet been struck, but the closeness of an informal understanding is leading to speculation that any deal will be announced at a key EU summit in Brussels next month.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Net migration to be 80,000 per year lower after Brexit, says OBR – Daily Telegraph

James Forsyth: Events have dealt May a winning hand in Brussels

“In the days following the vote, Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, declared that Britain had just ‘collapsed — politically, economically, monetarily and constitutionally’. Five months on, Britain is in a stronger position than Rutte and co. would have believed possible. Since the referendum, the British economy has grown faster than that of the eurozone. The government is now led by a Prime Minister who is as secure in her job as any of her EU counterparts. Theresa May can walk into the Brexit negotiations knowing that she has several aces in her hand.” – The Spectator

  • The Prime Minister is turning into continuity Cameron – Tim Montgomerie, The Times (£)

Ministers accused of censorship in online porn crackdown

Computer“Pornography websites that show ‘non-conventional sexual acts’ could be blocked in a tough Government crackdown. Internet service providers could be forced to block sites hosting content that would not be certified for commercial DVD sale by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). Ministers were embroiled in a censorship row last night amid fears they were seeking to ban online porn videos showing activities that are legal for consenting over-16s.” – Daily Mail

News in Brief:

  • Warning over far right as Cox’s killer is jailed – The Times (£)
  • Putin praises French presidential front-runner Fillon as ‘great professional’ – Daily Mail
  • Japan vows to respond to ‘serious’ Russian missile deployment in disputed islands – Daily Telegraph
  • Trump adds diversity by picking Hayley, Carson, and DeVos – FT
  • Shock poll finds Italian government set to lose make-or-break referendum – Daily Express
  • NHS is sick man of Europe for doctors and beds – The Times (£)
  • Stein campaign to recount US election hits $2.5m target – The Independent
  • German MEP says European Army will happen thanks to Brexit – Daily Mail
  • Sturgeon blasted for rule-breaking as she refuses to disclose expenses – Daily Express
  • Exams chiefs are in a parallel universe, claim MSPs – The Scotsman
  • Troubles victims to share £32m funding – Belfast Telegraph

And finally… William defies Serjeant at Arms over pet spider

“The Conservative chief whip has declined to remove a tarantula called Cronus from his office despite a House of Commons ban on pets. Gavin Williamson, appointed by Theresa May as her parliamentary enforcer in July, has spoken in recent days about his unusual deskmate, who is kept in a glass tank and named after a Greek god who castrated his father and ate his children. However, the publicity means the pet has come to the attention of the serjeant at arms, since Palace of Westminster rules state that the only animals allowed on the estate are guide and security dogs.” – The Guardian

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