May delays National Insurance tax raid…

MAY Theresa pensive“Theresa May hit the pause button on Philip Hammond’s controversial raid on the self-employed, in a bid to head off a humiliating Commons defeat by furious Tory MPs. The Prime Minister moved to delay legislation on the £2 billion hike in National Insurance on solo workers until the autumn, after Tory whips warned her they ‘didn’t have the numbers’ to push the Budget measure through the Commons. Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Mrs May tried to shore up her beleaguered Chancellor by defending the tax raid, which breaks the Tories manifesto pledge not to raise NI.” – Daily Mail

  • Blow to Hammond as the Prime Minister back-pedals – The Times (£)
  • Prime Minister promises to ‘soften the blow’ – FT
  • Trying day for May as Budget woes follow her to crucial summit – The Times (£)
  • Downing Street denies that the Prime Minister avoided reporters – The Independent
  • Hammond went where Osborne feared to tread – The Guardian
  • How the Chancellor walked headfirst into controversy – FT
  • Prince Harry pressures the Prime Minister over veterans’ mental health – The Sun
  • How the Tories pledged no rises… then did it anyway – The Guardian


  • This Budget invests in our future whilst balancing the books – Chris Philp, Times Red Box

…as up to a hundred MPs gear up for rebellion against the Budget

“Senior Conservatives including a minister and Government whip denounced the key pillar of Philip Hammond’s Budget and said they would seek to overturn it when it comes before Parliament. The Telegraph has learnt that the leader of the mutiny, the MP for  Berwick upon Tweed Anne-Marie Trevelyan, is in the process of drafting an amendment designed to kill off the proposed increase, which has the backing of 30 Tory MPs. The rebels claim 100 Tory MPs will either defy the whip or abstain if the NI tax rise for 2.5 million people is put to a Commons vote.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Welsh minister calls on Government to apologise – Daily Telegraph
  • May scrambles to head off major rebellion – The Independent
  • The Sun demands Hammond reverse his attack on ‘white van man’ – The Sun
  • Breaking a manifesto pledge ‘stupid’, says Cameron – Daily Telegraph
  • Chancellor right to ignore ‘silly pledges’, say experts – The Times (£)
  • Self-employed drive number of days taken off sick to all-time low – Daily Mail
  • How backlash from self-employed would decimate Tory majority – Daily Telegraph

More Budget:

  • Cutting dividend break so soon ‘incoherent’, warn IFS – The Times (£)
  • Rates windfall for pubs could breach EU rules – The Sun
  • Business rates backtrack could save firms £2.5 billion – The Times (£)
  • Biggest Tory poll lead in eight years – The Times (£)
  • Hammond unveils £400 million spending spree for Midlands – The Sun


  • Hammond hasn’t accepted Brexit, that’s why his Budget was a farce – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph
  • The special bond between the Tories and the working man has been broken – Norman Tebbit, Daily Telegraph


  • The sighs have it in a near-empty House – Patrick Kidd, The Times (£)
  • A lacklustre second day of debate – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • Hammond embraces ‘Labour’s jobs tax’… just as Labour ditch it – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph


Ed Conway: This could be the beginning of the end for National Insurance

tax“Of all the complex, incentive-skewing elements of Britain’s tax system, national insurance is surely the worst. A charge introduced a century ago as the central pillar of Britain’s contributory welfare system has evolved into just another wing of income tax — primarily thanks to Gordon Brown, who hiked it repeatedly to avoid breaking yet another silly manifesto pledge (not to raise income tax). The best thing the chancellor could do is to be the man who finally merges NI and income tax for everyone. Had he done so this week, he would even have swerved accusations about breaking a manifesto pledge (you can hardly be accused of raising a tax if it no longer technically exists).” – The Times (£)

  • Hammond must celebrate the self-employed, not tax them out of existence – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph
  • National Insurance is a side issue: schools will be the real battle – Jane Merrick, Times Red Box
  • Budget is a swipe at the strivers and entrepreneurs we need to make Brexit work – Mike Cherry, Daily Telegraph
  • No rights, more tax: this is Tory ‘fairess’ for the self-employed – Frances O’Grady, The Guardian
  • The self-employed should pay the same as everyone else – Ryan Shorthouse, Times Red Box
  • Hammond is another Norman Lamont – Tim Stanley, Daily Telegraph


  • This sly Budget will hurt natural Tories – Daily Mail
  • A sensible Budget becomes an embarassing political mess – The Times (£)



Prime Minister insists she’ll resist £52 billion EU ‘divorce bill’

“Theresa May insisted last night she will fight any demands for Britain to pay a £52 billion ‘divorce bill’ when it leaves the EU. The Prime Minister warned European leaders the British people did not vote for Brexit only to keep sending huge sums to Brussels. The row over a potential bill intensified yesterday as EU figures claimed the amount would have to be settled before talks on a new trading relationship start. But Mrs May, in Brussels for an EU leaders’ summit, said: ‘I’m clear that the way people voted on June 23 for us to leave the European Union, they voted for us in the future not paying huge sums of money into the EU every year.'” – Daily Mail

  • ‘Time to get on’ with formal negotiations, says May – FT
  • Demand cash back like Thatcher, says Johnson – The Times (£)
  • Britain will have to pay, suggests Irish prime minister – The Independent
  • It’s Europe that really needs the negotiations, claims ex-Bank of England chief – Daily Mail
  • German jobs at risk if we don’t get a deal, insists Duncan Smith – Daily Express

More EU:

  • Could Article 50 be triggered on Tuesday? – Daily Mail
  • Britons should be able to keep EU rights individually, says negotiator – Daily Telegraph


  • The City prepares for its next Brexit battle – Ben Wright, Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit may end with a whimper, not a bang – Philip Collins, The Times (£)
  • May’s Anglo-Catholic caution poses a risk to our post-Brexit future – Michael Gove, The Times (£)

Goodwill challenges SNP over immigration claims

Britain shield“Nicola Sturgeon has been challenged by the Home Office to provide evidence that Scotland needs its own immigration policy after it emerged there is flexibility in the current system that has barely been used. Robert Goodwill, the Immigration Minister, said there is a Scotland-only Shortage Occupation List (SOL) for employers wanting to bring in the skilled personnel they need from outside the European Economic Area. But he said it is “largely aligned” with the UK’s list despite “extensive” consultation with Scottish employers about the sort of posts they need people from other countries to fill.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Second referendum inevitable, minister admits – Daily Mail
  • Government prepare for battle over timing – FT
  • Davidson says Sturgeon is ‘hell bent on destruction’ – The Sun
  • Scotland split down the middle on independence – Daily Telegraph
  • Nelson says narrow window of action forcing the First Minister’s hand – Daily Express


  • Will May or Sturgeon blink first? – Alex Bell, The Guardian

>Yesterday: David Shiels in Comment: The Stormont elections were more a blow to Unionism than the Union

Split with Republican legislators slowing Trump

“Two days into a frantic battle to repeal and replace Obamacare, Donald Trump’s White House is struggling to win over fellow Republicans in Congress. The strength of resistance to the new healthcare bill within the party points to a broader problem for Mr Trump – almost two months in to his presidency he is struggling to control the legislative agenda. “The White House doesn’t have a plan and they’re not providing any leadership,” says Peter Wehner, former speech writer for George W Bush. “The House and the Senate are at odds. They need a president to weigh in on an option and guide it and they’re not getting it.”” – FT

  • Eight keys to understanding the Trump administration – Lord Ashcroft, TIME

News in Brief:

  • NHS to treat more patients by phone as A&E waits hit worst levels ever – Daily Mail
  • Long-serving NHS chief suspended – The Times (£)
  • Two dead as ousting South Korean president sparks clashes – Daily Telegraph
  • Wilders PVV heads for Dutch poll destiny – FT
  • Brits to suffer worst spell without pay rises since Napoleon – The Sun
  • Schools try to ‘game’ League Tables, says new Ofsted chief – Daily Mail
  • ‘Ghost ships’ in European waters spark terror fears – The Times (£)
  • MPs urged to abandon Palace of Westminster for six years – The Independent