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Budget 1) No ‘denied windfall’ as Hammond builds Brexit warchest

NHS_Logo“Philip Hammond said yesterday that there would be no new money for the NHS in Wednesday’s budget, facing down pressure from Labour and brandishing his credentials as a fiscal conservative. The chancellor insisted that there would be “no spending sprees” as he promised to put more cash into social care alongside a wide-ranging review, but made it clear that he was not contemplating extra cash for the NHS. Mr Hammond challenged the service to reform, saying that he believed that only a minority of trusts were experiencing severe financial difficulties.” – The Times (£)

  • McDonnell wants fund spent on NHS instead – The Independent
  • Six things to look out for in the Budget – FT
  • Hammond plans tax rises to fund giveaways – The Times (£)

Public spending:

  • More than 600 health quango chiefs on six-figure salaries – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Cllr Joel Davidson in Local Government: Councils can prioritise adult social care funding without Council Tax hikes

Budget 2) Final plea from businesses to ease impact of new rates

“Business leaders have made a final plea to the chancellor to reduce the impact of changes to commercial rates that could double the tax bill for some firms. The trade body for retailers, the British Retail Consortium, has written to the chancellor, Philip Hammond, saying the high street needs a “fundamental reform” of the tax, while a survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found that business rates are the biggest concern for one in two small firms. Britain’s live music scene could also be harmed by the changes to the business rates, according to a new report.” – The Guardian

Hammond says Britain will voluntarily pay EU bills

philip-hammond-20-11-16“Britain will pay its bills due as part of the Brexit negotiations voluntarily despite advice to ministers saying that there is no legal obligation to do so, the chancellor suggested yesterday. Philip Hammond said that reports that the European Union could demand up to €60 billion (£50 billion) for projects Britain had signed off as a member which have yet to be paid for were a “negotiating strategy”. Theresa May would honour bills that should be paid, he said. On Saturday The Times reported that government legal advice stated there was no law or treaty that could compel Britain to make post-Brexit payments.” – The Times (£)

  • Brussels warned that Britain won’t ‘slink off’ – The Sun
  • Post-Brexit ‘special treatment’ policies doomed, warns IoD – Daily Express

>Yesterday: Josh Neidus in Comment: Why May must not give up on Single Market membership

Matthew d’Ancona: Hammond and May’s fates rest on Brexit, as the Budget will show

“If, as expected, improved forecasts leave Hammond with £12bn of wriggle roomthat he did not expect, his priority will be to maximise his options once article 50 is triggered rather than to spend his way to easy headlines. There is a theme to his idiom that is instructive: he wants to make the economy “match-fit”, “resilient”, “future-proof”. Though he hopes that the price of secession from the EU will be minimal, he is realistic enough to prepare for more costly contingencies. As he said on the Andrew Marr Show: “We are a nation that abides by our international obligations.” In other words: prepare for a nasty bill from Brussels in the post. Even the promised drive for improved technical education is presented as part of this preparatory strategy, stacking the sandbags in readiness for the blitz.” – The Guardian

  • My guide to avoiding an omnishambles budget – Matt Ridley, The Times (£)

Editorial:

  • Hammond needs to signal radical action ahead – The Scotsman

>Today:

>Yesterday:

Fox seeks to build African trade links with plan nicknamed ‘Empire 2.0’

International shield“Britain will seek to boost trade links with African Commonwealth nations this week in a move described by Whitehall officials as “empire 2.0”. Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, will promise to build better links with the 52-member organisation when ministers from each country meet in London on Thursday and Friday. Britain plans to promise all developing nations that their trading relationships with the UK will stay the same or improve after Brexit, guaranteeing that they will not get worse. Ministers want to go further with African nations, however, and start talks to allow Britain to work more closely with an African free trade zone.” – The Times (£)

  • EU negotiations could take ‘ten minutes’, says Lilley – Daily Express
  • ‘Bonfire of qualifications’: shakeup to boost skills post-Brexit – The Times (£)
  • Ending free movement may not cut immigration, peers warn – Daily Mail
  • Training and wage rises needed to cut migration – The Sun
  • International students are worth £26 billion, warn universities – The Times (£)
  • Ridge accuses Benn of ‘abandoning’ British expats in Europe – Daily Express

Comment:

  • The House of Lords must back down over Brexit – Baroness Evans, The Times (£)
  • EU may be doomed, but not in the way Brexiteers think – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Dominic Raab MP in Comment: Why Labour and the LibDems in the Lords are wrong about EU nationals

Rosindell calls for ‘Jubilee Day’

“The Queen’s 65 years on the throne should be celebrated this summer with a public holiday, enabling people to enjoy street parties and other communal events, the Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell has said. Last month the Queen became the first British monarch to reach a Sapphire Jubilee. The MP for Romford will be given time tomorrow to introduce his Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee Bill into the Commons. He claimed that Theresa May had been “positive in her approach” to his idea.” – The Times (£)

  • Sixty-five years on the throne should be celebrated, MPs claim – The Sun

Union 1) Davidson says Sturgeon risks severe backlash over second independence referendum

Ruth DavidsonRuth Davidson has warned Nicola Sturgeon that her public support would take a “massive hit” if she presses ahead with demands for a second independence referendum in the face of opposition from the majority of Scots. The Scottish Tory leader said the First Minister would pay a “heavy price” at the ballot box and repeated her claim to the Telegraph last week that the Unionist campaign would have “every opportunity” to win a rerun of the 2014 vote by an even larger margin… Her intervention came as an opinion poll showed only one in four Scots want a second independence referendum before Brexit talks are complete, with 51 per cent opposed and 24 per cent uncertain.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Business leaders ready to donate ‘six-figure sums’ to save UK – Daily Telegraph
  • Poll finds Scots saying ‘no’ to another referendum – Daily Express

Comment:

  • The real enemy of devolution remains the Nationalists – Brian Monteith, The Scotsman
  • May is playing with fire by attacking the SNP – Lesley Riddoch, The Scotsman

Union 2) May urged to reject Northern Irish deal that doesn’t protect ex-servicemen

“Theresa May should rip up any new Northern Ireland power sharing deal that abandons ageing Army veterans, senior Tories have warned. Dramatic election results for the Stormont assembly over the weekend mean unionists have lost their overall majority on it for the first time. Ministers expect Sinn Fein will use their boosted numbers to try to step up legacy probes on up to 1,000  ex-soldiers who served during the Troubles. The Prime Minister spoke to Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny this evening ahead of intense discussions that begin today to thrash out a new power-sharing deal.” – The Sun

  • Foster faces revolt: third of DUP MLAs want her to step aside… – Belfast Telegraph
  • …but she says she’s not quitting – Belfast Telegraph
  • Brokenshire meets party chiefs as talks begin to restore devolution – News Letter
  • Sinn Fein urged to agree to inquiry into IRA Troubles killings – Daily Telegraph
  • Ulster parties prepare for new reality – FT
  • Swann and Aiken frontrunners to lead Ulster Unionists – Belfast Telegraph

Comment:

  • Northern Ireland’s two big gangs go on shooting – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph
  • Nesbitt leaves the UUP with the same ideological vacuum he inherited – Sam McBride, News Letter
  • May must call a summit to prevent direct rule – Peter Hain, The Guardian

Editorial:

Ben Wallace: Teachers must watch as carefully for extremism as for abuse

School“As the Minister for Security I’ve learnt about other children at serious risk of harm but who have been helped by Prevent. We know Isil use children to not only spread fear but to carry out murders. Da’esh see no difference between the UK and the middle east to unleash their terror. ‘Cubs of the Caliphate’ is a real indoctrination programme which Da’esh use in their sick promotional videos… The common denominator in these types of cases is more often than not a teacher who identified a concern. The crucial role of teachers is why schools are covered by the statutory Prevent duty, introduced in 2015, in the same way they have a statutory duty to safeguard children from physical or sexual abuse or neglect.” – Daily Telegraph

  • We need to rethink how we punish paedophiles – Ian Birrell, The i

Corbyn’s tax return stunt backfires

“Jeremy Corbyn was facing questions over his tax returns last night after he failed to declare his leader’s salary to the taxman. The Labour leader published details of his tax returns on his website in an effort to force Philip Hammond to do the same. But the move descended into farce because the figures did not add up – with around £40,000 of his earnings missing. Last night his aides admitted they did not know why his published salary was lower than expected and blamed Mr Corbyn’s accountants for the error. They could not explain why he declared he had been paid only £77,019 for the year 2015-16, when he would have received a base salary of £74,962 just for being an MP.” – Daily Mail

Labour:

  • No such thing as a safe Labour seat, admits Long-Bailey – Daily Telegraph
  • Lewis fails to rule out leadership bid – The Sun
  • Balls won’t rule out a return to Parliament – The Times (£)
  • Blair denies asking Trump for job – Daily Mail

Nuttall ‘begs’ for time to fix UKIP

UKIP glass“Paul Nuttall has asked Ukip to “give me time to sort out this mess” as the row over Nigel Farage’s failed bid for a knighthood escalated. Speaking ten days after losing the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election, the Ukip leader admitted to “moments of doubt” over whether he was the right person to head the party. Mr Nuttall, 40, had faced questions over his leadership after he barely dented Labour’s majority in the by-election, but vowed to press on.” – The Times (£)

>Today: Nadhim Zahawi MP’s column: It isn’t UKIP that stands to gain from the collapse of Labour. It’s the Conservatives.

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Nuttall – “I’ve never been caught in a paedophile gang or anything”

News in Brief:

  • NHS strikes deal with Uber for patient transport – Daily Mail
  • Investigate Obama over phone tapping claims, says Trump – The Times (£)
  • North Korea fires four ballistic missiles into sea near Japan – Daily Telegraph
  • Republican tax reform could shake up global economy – FT
  • Number of British female terrorists has ‘tripled in five years’ – The Sun
  • Backlash looms over Standard Life’s £11 billion merger – The Scotsman
  • Labour turns up pressure on Plaid over suspended councillor – Wales Online

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