Osborne to announce school reforms…

OSBORNE non-broken sword“George Osborne will spend £1.5 billion on additional lessons and activities at secondary schools over the next four years in a move that his aides said spelt the end of the ‘Victorian’ finish time of 3.30pm. In today’s budget, the chancellor will also confirm that local education authorities are to be dismantled and all English state schools required to become academies by 2022, bringing a close to the century-old system” – The Times (£)

…and could cut tax to boost sale of second homes…

“Plans to reduce capital gains tax have been examined by Treasury officials as ministers look at ways to encourage people to sell their second homes. George Osborne has suggested that he is keen to cut the tax after the Liberal Democrats forced him to raise it during coalition negotiations in 2010. Officials have been asked to look at cuts to the top rate from 28 per cent to 20 per cent, while the charge for basic rate taxpayers would drop from 18 per cent to 15 per cent” – The Times (£)

  • Chancellor to announce fresh austerity measures – Guardian
  • Beer tax frozen despite hopes of a cut – Daily Mail
  • Budget predictions 2016: ten themes to look out for – Chris Giles, Financial Times
  • Budget 2016: what to look out for – Daily Telegraph
  • Osborne to provide £100 million to tackle homelessness – Guardian
  • Will Osborne dare make the Budget part of Project Fear? – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph
  • In replying to the Budget, Corbyn should make a serious speech – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

…while carrying on with the Northern Powerhouse

OSBORNE of the north“George Osborne will use Wednesday’s budget to set in motion plans for a high-speed railway line from Manchester to Leeds and an 18-mile underground road tunnel beneath the Peak District. The chancellor will also promise to ‘prioritise’ a north-south link through central London as he accepts the final recommendations of the National Infrastructure Commission, led by former Labour peer Lord Adonis… Adonis said: ‘If the north is to become a powerhouse, it has to be better connected’” – Guardian

  • All top Treasury officials are based in London – Guardian

IDS tells Cameron to veto Turkey deal

IDS on Marr“David Cameron should veto the ‘dangerous’ deal between Europe and Turkey this week, according to Iain Duncan Smith. The work and pensions secretary said that a plan to give 70 million Turkish citizens access to the Schengen free travel area meant that more migrants were likely to head to northern France and try to enter Britain” – The Times (£)

  • Cameron blasts Leave campaigners for “making it up as they go along” – The Sun
  • David Jones MP exposed as Cameron’s Brexit Twitter troll – The Sun



Expats fight for right to vote in referendum

“UK expats are bringing a legal challenge against the government’s decision to exclude up to 2m Britons living abroad from voting in June’s EY referendum. Law firm Leigh Day claims it is unlawful to exclude UK expats from voting if they have lived outside the UK for more than 15 years… If their challenge is successful it could require the government to rush through amending legislation to change the voting register for the June referendum” – Financial Times

  • MPs granted extra leave because of referendum – Daily Mail

Ethnic minorities turn against EU

EU Exit brexit“Millions of black and Asian votes are ‘up for grabs’ in the Brexit referendum amid growing hostility towards the European Union from Britain’s ethnic minorities. Race equality activists say they are surprised at the extent of anger about the EU driven by resentment over large-scale migration from Eastern Europe and support for neo-Nazi groups on the continent” – The Times (£)

  • Mandelson says Irish peace process could be set back by Brexit – Independent

One Johnson attacks another Johnson’s Brexit “fantasy”

“Clearly, there is some deception going on. [Boris] Johnson, Farage and the other Brexiters are quick to denounce anyone who spells out the facts about what Brexit would mean for Britain’s prosperity, security or influence as constituting “Project Fear”. But it is increasingly clear that the leave campaign is the one that is reliant upon deception – let’s call it Project Fantasy” – Alan Johnson, Guardian

  • Leadsom attacks Cameron’s EU deal in referendum debate – Daily Telegraph

Labour suspends activist in anti-semitism row

LABOUR holes“Labour has suspended for a second time an activist at the centre of a row about antisemitic tweets. Vicki Kirby was a parliamentary candidate when she was put under investigation by the party in 2014 after a series of posts on Twitter in which she apparently suggested Adolf Hitler might be a ‘Zionist God’ and that Jews had ‘big noses’” – Guardian

  • Why is Labour so care-free about anti-semitism? – Stephen Pollard, Daily Express
  • Corbyn should show zero tolerance of anti-semitism – Sebastian Payne, Financial Times
  • Is the Blairs’ £27 million property empire relevant to public anger about the housing crisis? – Larry Elliott and Aditya Chakrabortty, Guardian

Sturgeon accused of “abuse of power” for holding teen rally

“Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of ‘abuse of power’ for encouraging head teachers to send 16- and 17-year-old pupils to a ‘political rally’ on the eve of the Holyrood election campaign. A Scottish Government official wrote to education bosses asking them to get pupils – ‘ideally a boy and a girl’ – from each school to an ‘Ask the First Minister’ event in Edinburgh next Monday” – Scotsman

  • Experts confirm that SNP’s council tax system is regressive – Herald


Trump knocks out Rubio but loses to Kasich

TRUMP Donald“Donald Trump knocked Marco Rubio out of the Republican race by winning Florida and three more states, reinforcing his status as the GOP frontrunner, but he lost to John Kasich in Ohio, complicating his path to the presidential nomination. Mr Trump, the New York property mogul who has several properties in the Sunshine State, handed a devastating loss to the Cuban-American senator in his home state of Florida, by winning 46 per cent of the vote against Mr Rubio’s 27 per cent” – Financial Times

  • The ten reasons why Trump has nine fingers on the Republican nomination – Tim Montgomerie, CapX


News in brief

  • Putin “willing to ditch Assad to end five-year conflict” – Independent
  • North Korea sentences American student to 15 years’ hard labour – Guardian
  • Prisoners taunt officers over Adrian Ismay’s death – Belfast Telegraph
  • Victory for Pickles in battle against council newspapers – The Times (£)
  • Brussels police shoot suspected terrorist dead – Independent
  • Rolf Harris accused of seven new indecent assaults – Daily Mail
  • Prince William criticised for justifying trophy hunting – Guardian
  • Hypocrisy of “green” coffee shops with unrecycled cups – Daily Mail
  • Minchin complains about Walker’s plum position on BBC Breakfast sofa – Daily Telegraph