Budget Leak, sorry, Briefing 1) Hammond to build Brexit war chest…

Hammond with FT“Philip Hammond will use this week’s budget to build up a £60bn Brexit war chest to boost Britain’s “resilience” to economic turbulence as the UK withdraws from the European Union…An upturn in economic growth — set to hit 2% this year — higher tax receipts and a fall in borrowing, mean that the £27bn the chancellor had set aside for 2020 is set to more than double to nearly £60bn. But the chancellor says the UK must “get back to living within our means” and cannot risk a “huge spending spree, calling those who want higher borrowing “confused” and “reckless”.” – Sunday Times (£)

Budget Leak, sorry, Briefing 2) …but find more money for social services…

“Mr Hammond has found the cash to stave off collapse while a long-term solution to the funds shortfall is found. It will take the strain off hospitals unable to send home elderly and disabled patients because of a lack of community carers. A senior source said last night: “Social care will be at the forefront of everything we do. This will not be just a sticking plaster solution, but short-term help while we work out long-term reforms to fix this for good.” – Sun on Sunday

Budget Leak, sorry, Briefing 3) …And overhaul technical education

“Sixteen to 19 year olds taking non-academic qualifications will be given a £500million a year boost to secure better paid, higher quality jobs. Announcing the wide-ranging reforms on Wednesday, Chancellor Philip Hammond will say that it is more important than ever to prepare young people for Britain’s post-Brexit future. There are currently 13,000 separate qualifications which will be replaced with a more streamlined “15 world-class routes” better suited to business needs.” – Sunday Express

Hammond: The three core mission at the heart of my Budget

“In preparing my first budget, I have focused on three core missions: supporting the prime minister in her negotiations with the EU by ensuring that she enters them from the position of strength that economic resilience brings; getting Britain match-fit for its global role after it leaves the EU by continuing our investment in infrastructure, innovation and the skills people need to find secure and well-paid jobs; and supporting ordinary working families in their aspirations for a better life for themselves and confidence that their children will have a bright future” – Philip Hammond, Sunday Times (£)

Gove, Lilley and Raab sign Brexit Select Committee Report calling for May to give way on EU nationals in Britain

Gove“The committee report states: “EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU are aware that their fate is subject to the negotiations. They do not want to be used as bargaining chips, and the uncertainty they are having to live with is not acceptable. Although the government has said it wants EU citizens to be able to remain, the committee notes that this has not offered sufficient reassurance that the rights and status that they have enjoyed will be guaranteed. We recommend that the UK should now make a unilateral decision to safeguard the rights of EU nationals living in the UK.” – Sunday Express

  • Parliament’s authorities bar LibDem Brexit Bill sleepover – Sunday Telegraph
  • Leave means Leave’s Six Point Brexit plan – Sun on Sunday
  • Gina Miller says Brexit could lead to a world war – Independent on Sunday
  • May is taking a risk by ruling out an early election – Andrew Rawnsley, Observer

Anna Soubry: Pro-Remain Conservatives are being abused by pro-Leave Conservatives (and threatened by the Whips)

SOUBRY Murnaghan“I have never known a political atmosphere like the current one in Westminster. There is a danger that the insidious methods used to silence all criticism of Brexit, no matter how reasoned and measured, will have disastrous consequences for our country. It happened to John Major and Michael Heseltine last week and generally goes like this: Conservative politician questions the merits of a hard Brexit. A series of pro-hard Brexit Conservative MPs (usually the same ones each time) round on him or her in abusive terms for having the temerity to question whether a hard Brexit will lead to Britain’s streets being paved with gold.” – Mail on Sunday

> Today: Josh Neidus on Comment – Why May must not give up on Single Market membership

Johnson to visit Russia and meet Lavrov

“He will become the first Foreign Secretary to visit Russia since its relations with Britain went into deep freeze five years ago. And he will come face-to-face with the opposite number he has publicly mocked several times. In a major development, Mr Johnson will fly out to meet Sergei Lavrov for talks within the next few weeks.  It comes just months after he called for demos outside the Russian Embassy in protest over its “war crimes” in bombing the Syrian city of Aleppo…Sources insisted he isn’t going to “cosy up” to the Russians – and that his mission will be to ‘engage but beware’ “ Sun on Sunday

Nine top Labour MPs warn Corbyn he’s heading for disaster

Jeremy Corbyn 16-11-15“The confrontations with rebel MPs took place at two separate meetings; at Tuesday’s Shadow Cabinet and Wednesday’s Labour Parliamentary Committee, a small group of MPs and peers. Shadow Brexit Minister, lawyer Keir Starmer, urged Mr Corbyn to follow his own lead when he had been head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)…Shadow Trade Minister Barry Gardiner, who has supported Mr Corbyn in public, said the Labour leader and the Shadow Cabinet should be in no doubt about the widespread opposition to him from his MPs. Labour’s election campaigns chief Andrew Gwynne, who led the Party’s unsuccessful bid to retain Copeland, said he feared the Tories were on course for a landslide Election victory with Labour losing up to 50 seats.” – Mail on Sunday

Northern Ireland: Elections leave DUP damaged, Sinn Fein boosted

“Sinn Féin is now only one seat behind the DUP after a bruising and divisive election caused by Foster’s refusal to temporarily stand down as Northern Ireland’s first minister following a botched green energy scheme scandal which has the potential of costing taxpayers £500,000….The DUP remain the largest party in the new assembly, with Donaldson stressing that Foster would still be their nominee as first minister if and when a power-sharing government is restored.” – Observer

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – The DUP must treat this self-inflicted defeat as a spur for serious reform

Scotland: Davidson pledges real devolution at Scottish Tory Conference

Ruth Davidson“The Tory leader said her party is ready to form the Government of Scotland despite never having tasted power under devolution in a rousing speech to the party’s Scottish conference in Glasgow yesterday. Opposition to a second independence referendum was at the heart of Ms Davidson’s half-hour speech, but she also set out plans for “real devolution” in Scotland which would see council leaders “empowered” to take on the English Northern powerhouse metropolitan giants like Manchester and Birmingham.” – Scotland on Sunday

  • Mundell says Scotland will emerge stronger from Brexit – Observer

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Why May will give battle to Sturgeon… after Brexit

John Rentoul: The effect of Brexit on Unionism has been less than many expected

“What is surprising, in fact, is how little the Brexit vote has weakened unionism in both Scotland and Northern Ireland. Since the EU referendum, support for independence in Scotland has hardly shifted. Although one or two polls say it is close, and attract attention, most suggest that independence would lose again. And in Northern Ireland, despite Sinn Fein’s advance since last May, the unionist parties still have 40 seats to 39 for the nationalists and 11 uncommitted: we are still a long way from majority support for a united Ireland.” – Independent on Sunday

Sir Nigel row continues

Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 07.37.56“UKIP leader Paul Nuttall has deepened the rift with Nigel Farage by rubbishing his predecessor’s claims that the party’s only MP tried to block his knighthood. Now Mr Nuttall says in an interview on Sophy Ridge on Sunday, to be broadcast on Sky News today: ‘I’m going to sort this out.’ In a clear swipe at Mr Farage, he adds: ‘I run the show – let’s be perfectly clear. ‘At the behest of myself, the party chairman met with Douglas and we now have it in writing, from Douglas, that he did speak to the right people and he did lobby for Nigel to get a knighthood.’ Mr Nuttall says he also backs a knighthood for Mr Farage.” – Mail on Sunday

Trump latest: he claims Obama wiretapped him

“In an unprecedented attack by a sitting president on former occupant of the White House Mr Trump called Mr Obama “sick” and suggested he should be criminally prosecuted for “wiretapping” him during the election campaign. Mr Trump unleashed his astonishing allegations on Twitter from is Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, where he was spending the weekend, but offered no proof and it was believed he may have based them on media reports.” – Daily Telegraph

  • He’s quietly turning into a hawk on Russia – Tim Stanley, Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

  • A tenth of all British Islamist terrorists come from five council wards in Birmingham – Sunday Times (£)
  • Top legal watchdog-to-be “used ‘faulty evidence’ to convict 21/7 bombers despite knowing the expert was discredited” – Mail on Sunday
  • Defence chiefs spent £3million on private health care for nearly 1,000 injured troops – Sun on Sunday
  • Police raid Fillon’s home – Observer
  • BBC may ask elderly pensioners to ‘voluntarily’ pay for their licence fee – Daily Express
  • Bellew beats Haye – Sunday Telegraph
  • The App that could spell the end of supermarkets – Independent on Sunday