Budget 1) Conservatives are no longer seen as the low tax party

telegraphtax“The Conservatives are no longer seen as a party of low taxation following Philip Hammond’s tax raid on the self-employed, a new poll for The Telegraph shows. Just one in four voters now regards the Tories as a low-tax party, while almost half of those polled say they trust the Conservatives less as a result of Mr Hammond’s Budget. More than half of voters – 55 per cent – say Theresa May should have honoured the party’s manifesto pledge not to raise taxes. Figures on voting intentions are equally worrying for the Prime Minister, with almost half of those questioned saying they are less likely to vote Tory because of the Budget, including one in seven Conservative voters.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Fix this error – Leader Daily Telegraph
  • Stop playing politics with public trust – Leader Daily Mail
  • Ministers in revolt over attack on self employed grafters – The Sun
  • Disastrous attack on British strivers – The Sun Says

Today: James Cartlidge on Comment: The devastating truth at the heart of the NICs row. We’re palming difficult decisions off on the next generation.

Yesterday: MPsETC: Rolling list of Conservative MPs opposed to the NIC rise for the self-employed

Budget 2) Labour attacks “disarray”

“Labour’s shadow chancellor says the government is in disarray after Theresa May said Budget tax rises would not go before MPs until the autumn. John McDonnell called it a “partial U-turn” over National Insurance increases for self-employed workers. Prime Minister Mrs May defended the change as “fair”, amid a backlash from some Tory MPs and newspapers. But she said it would not be voted on until after proposals for extra rights for the self employed was published.” – BBC

  • Corbyn is the reason the Tories can get away with this Budget – Tom Harris Daily Telegraph

Budget 3) Lamont says the National Insurance increase is a “rookie error”

Lord Lamont“Election pledges should not be lightly given – to have committed oneself to not raising VAT, income tax and National Insurance all at the same time was unwise in the extreme – and tax pledges cannot be lightly cast aside. My guess is that, in time, the Chancellor’s tax raid on the self-employed will be seen as a rookie error. He is fortunate in having plenty of time to regain trust on tax before the next election….But unless the Chancellor taps into supply-side reforms and the Thatcher radicalism that marks the most enduring economic achievement of modern Conservatism, this Budget won’t be the last in which he finds himself announcing increases in taxation.” – Norman Lamont Daily Telegraph

Budget 4) New claims that Surrey has got a special deal

“Philip Hammond’s budget has handed the largest boost in social care funding to Surrey council, according to calculations made after government ministers were accused of reaching a “sweetheart deal” with the Tory-led authority. Analysis by Labour shows that out of the £2bn of new money for social care in England announced in Wednesday’s budget, Surrey will see the biggest increase in the share of funding by the 2019/20 financial year. The analysis says that Surrey will get 1.66% of the money, rising from 0.75% in 2017/18, an increase of 0.91 percentage points in the three-year period – more than double the increase of the second council, Hertfordshire.” – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Jeremy Hunt on Comment: This week’s Budget delivered for the NHS, social care – and the vulnerable people who depend on both

Budget 5) The problem is not that the self employed are under taxed but that employees are overtaxed says Heath

HEATH Allister“It is obviously true that the present classification makes little sense. But sometimes it’s best not to change a broken system, for fear of making it even worse, and that is exactly what Hammond should have realised before he decided to raid the self-employed. The problem isn’t that the self-employed are “under-taxed” to the tune of £5.1bn a year, as many establishment economists have been saying. The problem is that employees are over-taxed to the tune of many more billions – overtaxed in the sense that a much lower overall tax rate, accompanied by a much smaller state, is, in my view, the only way Britain will prosper and thrive as an independent, free trading economy in the 21st century.” – Allister Heath Daily Telegraph

Budget 6) Hammond is “digging in” over NI rise

“A large number of Tory MPs feel that they didn’t come into politics to put up taxes on the self-employed — people who work hard without any of the security that those who work for a firm have. But Philip Hammond is digging in. He is “absolutely determined not to retreat on this”, according to one Cabinet ally of his. I understand he has been “surprised by the extent of the backlash”. Indeed, on Wednesday night he went out of his way to reassure Tory MPs that they could defend the policy, safe in the knowledge that the Government wasn’t going to back down. However, Downing Street is already playing for time — which is why the vote on this has been delayed to the autumn. They emphasise that they are listening before legislating, which indicates that a change in the policy might well be on the way. I understand No10 has already asked the Treasury for more details on how it works.” – James Forsyth The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: May needs Hammond – so she must not abandon him as he retreats on NICs

Budget 7) How “independent” are those backing tax rises?

MOORE Charles blue background“The Office of Budget Responsibility is run by Robert Chote, who used to run the Institute for Fiscal Studies (and whose wife runs Ofcom). The Institute for Fiscal Studies is run by a former civil servant and quangocrat called Paul Johnson; it is the main public advocate of the Chancellor’s attack on the self-employed. Matthew Taylor, the man charged with investigating “modern employment practices” is Tony Blair’s former head of political strategy. All these people and organisations are constantly praised for being “independent”. Certainly they are not moles for other parties, but the word “independent”, in the world of Whitehall, is virtually a synonym for “centre-Left” and “pro-EU”. They are no friends to Conservative governments. Even less are they the natural allies of the “just about managing” classes whom Mrs May had identified for sympathy (though not, so far, for many concrete advantages).” – Charles Moore Daily Telegraph

Budget 8) Backdoor tax on bereaved families

“Philip Hammond has been accused of levying a “backdoor tax on bereaved families” after the small print in this week’s budget showed that he will net £1.5 billion from raised probate fees over the next five years. At present, families pay a flat rate of £215 for permission to distribute someone’s assets after they die, with a small deduction for those applying for probate through a solicitor. Those charges are due to increase significantly in May, however, with a new structure tied to the value of the estate that will lead to fees ranging from £300 to £20,000.” – The Times(£)

Budget 9) Wetherspoon boss warns pubs will be hit

tax“The boss of JD Wetherspoon yesterday accused the Chancellor of favouring wealthy people who host Notting Hill dinner parties over those who have a modest meal in a pub. Tim Martin said Philip Hammond’s Budget had increased the inequality between supermarkets and pubs by forcing the latter to pay more in taxes and business rates. He said supermarkets paid less than 2p in business rates per pint of beer sold, whereas pubs paid about 18p a pint and a further 20 per cent VAT on food.” – Daily Mail

Budget 10) Hammond right to break election promise says Parris

“If he and the prime minister think Britain is under new management therefore all previous bets are off, they should say so. It has the virtue of being true, and many will understand. Hammond showed no discomfort last November in scrapping the manifesto’s deficit reduction timetable and I recall no media cries of betrayal. Purists will argue that a change of management requires a new mandate, but there is no public appetite for another general election and the fuss would soon abate.” – Matthew Parris The Times(£)

Budget 11) Osborne and Hammond tarnish our trust in democracy says Oborne

oborne“When she became Prime Minister eight months ago, Theresa May promised to lead a government that ‘fights injustice’, stands up to privilege and is driven by the interests of families who are ‘just about managing’. Also, she signalled a welcome end to the spin and manipulation of the Blair/ Cameron years. However, these noble aims and values have been badly damaged this week by Chancellor Philip Hammond and his predecessor, George Osborne.” – Peter Oborne Daily Mail

May will order grammar schools to increase intake of poorer pupils..

“All existing grammar schools will be forced to offer lower 11-plus pass marks to poorer children or embrace similar radical moves to end the middle-class stranglehold. Reforms to be announced next month will compel grammars to increase their intake of children from deprived backgrounds in an attempt to counter criticism that they are elitist. The move is intended to open the best selective schools to Theresa May’s “ordinary working families” but is likely to provoke hostility in the largely Conservative-run areas where most grammars are in place.” – The Times(£)

…but Heads heckle Greening

“Angry head teachers heckled Education Secretary Justine Greening as she told a conference about her plans for new grammar schools. There were cries of “rubbish” and “no, no” as she said selective schools could close the achievement gap between rich and poor pupils. And the head of Ofsted said too many schools boosted results by removing pupils not expected to do well.” – BBC

Brexit 1) Article 50 could be triggered on Tuesday

EU Exit brexit“Theresa May could trigger article 50, the formal process for leaving the European Union, as early as Tuesday if the Brexit bill passes late on Monday, government sources say. The legislation, which passed through the House of Commons unamended, is due to be debated by MPs on Monday. They will have to decide whether to accept a pair of amendments added by peers – on the rights of European Union citizens and granting parliament a meaningful vote at the end of the process.” – The Guardian

  • Give Britons right to buy EU citizenship says Verhofstadt – The Times(£)
  • Pro EU campaigners plan day of action – Independent

>Today: ToryDiary:May’s stock soars as Javid sinks in our post-Copeland Cabinet League Table

Brexit 2) Juncker hopes the UK will rejoin the EU

“European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said he hopes that the UK will rejoin the European Union at some point in future. Mr Juncker, the most senior official in Brussels, said he did not like Brexit because he wanted “to be in the same boat as the British”. “The day will come when the British will re-enter the boat, I hope,” he said following an EU summit. Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: “The ship will have sunk by then.” – BBC 

Brexit 3) Set up free movement with Australia says Abbott

ABBOTT Tony“Britain and Australia should set up a free movement zone after Brexit because they share “western norms of behaviour”, Tony Abbott has said. Mr Abbott, who was prime minister of Australia from 2013 to 2015, said the freedom of Britons and Australians to travel between the two countries “for work, not welfare” should be a condition of any future trade deal. “The instant Britain did vote to leave the European Union, people in Australia started to think about the appropriate terms of a free trade deal,” he said. “I have to say they are very simple. Trade in goods should be absolutely free of tariffs and quotas. There should be full mutual recognition of standards and qualifications. And there should be free movement of people for work, not welfare.” – The Times(£)

  • “Never been happier” than when UK voted to Leave says Abbott – The Sun

Brexit 4) Let’s get on with it says Lord Rose

“TORY peer and ex-Remain campaign chief Lord Rose has urged the nation to get “100 per cent behind the Government” on Brexit. In a startling intervention the former M&S boss – who headed up Stronger In – said it was time to rally behind Theresa May to “try to get the best possible deal”. His comments come just days before rebel Tory MPs threaten to delay Brexit by demanding a veto on the outcome of the EU talks. Lord Rose said while he voted to Remain, Parliament should give Government the flexibility it wants to negotiate. He told the Sun: “It’s time to move away from the brouhaha and rhetoric and get down to hard negotiation.” – The Sun

>Yesterday: WATCH: “It’s time to get on with leaving the European Union”. May’s EU summit press speech.

Brexit 5) Canadian lobster could fall in price

liam-fox-18-12-16“BREXIT BRITAIN was promised cheaper lobsters – and cut-price maple syrup – by Canada’s trade minister yesterday. Francois Philippe Champagne said he hoped the UK copied the free trade deal agreed between his country and the EU when it strikes out alone. And he revealed he had met Trade Secretary Liam Fox three times to discuss future relationships. He said a deal would mean “more and better choice for consumers”. He said: “A company in Wales is importing maple syrup from Canada and paying an 8 per cent import duty.” – The Sun

Jobs boost for Trump

“US President Donald Trump has hailed the federal government’s latest positive job figures, which he once denounced as “phony” and a “joke”. The US economy added 235,000 new jobs in February, Mr Trump’s first full month in office. He retweeted a news report with the caption: “GREAT AGAIN”. During a campaign speech last August, Mr Trump called the Department of Labor numbers one of the “biggest hoaxes in American modern politics”.” – BBC

  • King of Spain will visit UK before Trump – The Sun

>Yesterday: International: Trump loses fans and critics as Conservative Party members reserve judgement on his presidency

Cap energy bills says Penrose

PENROSE John“MPs from all parties will call on Theresa May to cap rip-off energy tariffs in a Commons debate next week. A former Cabinet Office minister has won the right to hold a vote on the scandal which could clear the way for price controls. Conservative MP John Penrose said: ‘Loyal customers are being systematically ripped off by big energy firms, and it’s not fair.’ ” – Daily Mail

Don’t block Scottish independence referendum warns Clegg

“The UK Government has been warned against “imposing a fatwa” and blocking a second independence referendum, “however unwelcome” such a vote may be. Former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said Theresa May’s government should not obstruct another ballot on independence if this was “being pushed” by the SNP. He also argued the Prime Minister may not be the best person to lead a campaign to keep the United Kingdom together, saying she may not be politically agile enough to deal with a fast-moving referendum campaign.” – The Herald

  • The Unionist case would have to be much more positive in a second referendum – Financial Times(£)

News in brief

  • Markets expect rise in US interest rates – BBC
  • London Assembly attacks police “failings” over Tower Hamlets Mayor – The Guardian
  • Nearly half of those who challenged parking tickets won – The Sun
  • MPs must vacate Parliament for six years or it will collapse – Daily Express
  • Katie Hopkins loses libel battle over tweet – BBC
  • London Mayor forces through high rise housing – Financial Times(£)
  • Ticket touts face unlimited fines – The Guardian
  • New migrant crisis on the way – Daily Express