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Budget 1) Hammond plans a ‘prosperous, inclusive’ Britain, with a ‘bright future’

‘Philip Hammond is preparing to deliver a budget to parliament that will “make or break” his political career, according to senior allies, who warned that one mistake could mark the end of his tenure at the Treasury. The chancellor is already under intense pressure from Brexit-supporting Tories as he prepares to prioritise investment in housing, teacher training and technological research and development. Hammond will attempt to take on his critics by striking an upbeat tone in his first financial statement since June’s election, promising to “embrace change, to meet our challenges head on, and to seize the opportunities for Britain”. Setting out a vision for a global Britain propped up by a “prosperous and inclusive economy”, he will say the country is at the forefront of a technological revolution and promise to “invest to secure a bright future”.’ – The Guardian

>Today: Sam Gyimah on Comment: On this Budget day, let’s unite against the prospect of a Marxist Chancellor

Budget 2) Councils will be encouraged to borrow in order to build

‘Philip Hammond will give councils more flexibility to borrow cash to build council homes as part of today’s package to increase housebuilding to 300,000 a year. The chancellor is expected to announce a series of housing deals with local councils in which they receive more financial freedoms and planning flexibility in return for commitments to meet supply targets. He has resisted a more ambitious proposal to scrap borrowing caps across the sector, however, in favour of a more modest set of reforms to enable more social housing. Councils such as Stoke-on-Trent have been pressing ministers to allow them to borrow cash as well as use receipts from “right-to-buy” sales to build tens of thousands more homes. One well-placed figure predicted that the chancellor would announce a programme of mass land-buying for new towns and new developments in existing cities.’ – The Times

>Yesterday: Robert Halfon’s column: My budget for the workers

Budget 3) National debt interest payments are now £8 million an hour

‘Britain plunged deeper into the red last month as the country was forced to pay £8million an hour servicing the mammoth national debt. Bleak figures published on the eve of the Budget showed the government borrowed another £8billion in October – £500million more than in the same month last year – as it continued to spend more than it receives in tax. The deterioration in the public finances came as debt interest payments jumped by 25 per cent to £6billion in October alone – or around £8million an hour. The spiralling cost of servicing the national debt – which now stands at a record £1.79trillion having tripled since the turn of the century – is leeching much-needed resources away from Britain’s creaking public services. The figures, from the Office for National Statistics, pile pressure on Philip Hammond to get a grip on the nation’s finances in the Budget today.’ – Daily Mail

  • Borrowing is still set to beat forecasts for the year – FT
  • It’s a mistake to think the public oppose austerity – Alexander Hitchcock, The Times
  • British manufacturers’ orders are at the highest level since 1988 – Daily Mail
  • Banks fail to pass on rate rise to savers – Daily Mail
  • MPs warn of cost of ‘grave errors’ over Hinkley power station – FT

>Today: Rebecca Lowe Coulson’s column: Why Brexit, politics – and everything else – can’t just be about economics

Budget 4) Tensions rise on Downing Street as Hammond’s critics circle

‘Theresa May’s relationship with Philip Hammond is close to breaking point this morning after No 10 was forced to take control of a last-minute Budget briefing amid fears the Chancellor’s latest financial statement will fall flat. Downing Street ordered the Treasury to rush out an announcement on schools last night after alarm bells started ringing over what one Cabinet source described as “the worst Budget build-up in history”.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • The Chancellor is hemmed in by enemies and circumstance – FT
  • He is facing impossible demands – Rafael Behr, The Guardian
  • His safest option is to be boring – The Guardian
  • ‘Friends’ of May suggest she is too weak to sack him – The Sun
  • Defra board member quits – The Sun
  • The environment department uses 1,400 disposable coffee cups every day – The Guardian

Brexit 1) Grieve pulls Brexit rights amendment after Government pledges to ‘listen’

‘Theresa May tonight bowed to Tory rebels and agreed to ‘listen’ to concerns about keeping EU human rights laws after Brexit to avoid a humiliating parliamentary defeat. Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general and prominent Remainer, led the charge in calling for the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights to be enshrined in UK law after we quit the bloc. Ten Tory rebels signed up to the change to the flagship Brexit Bill and ministers feared other backbenchers would follow them through the division lobbies if it came to a vote. Mr Grieve pulled his amendment at the eleventh hour after ministers promised to publish a detailed account of how the rights enshrined in the Charter will be protected post-Brexit. The PM will be breathing a sigh of relief in No10 that she avoided a rebellion on the eve of the Budget.’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Merkel is doomed – but will not be replaced soon enough to help Brexit

Brexit 2) Hopes live on of ‘sufficient progress’ by December

‘Britain and the EU are targeting a Brexit divorce deal within three weeks, with negotiators drawing up a political road map that seeks to overcome the toughest unresolved issues on a financial settlement and Northern Ireland. Theresa May’s moves to settle the “divorce bill” have given new momentum to talks and negotiators have pencilled in the week of December 4 as a breakthrough moment when the two sides, within days, take decisive steps to open a second phase of trade talks. EU diplomats say there is a better than even chance of agreement on “sufficient progress” at an EU summit on December 14-15. But they warn that political miscalculations over the hardest remaining issues could easily derail plans. Britain has yet to disclose its offer details and diplomats fear the gap with the EU may still be large.’ – FT

>Yesterday: Graham Gudgin on Comment: Brussels and Dublin should stop playing games with the Irish border issue

May pledges Britain will help Zimbabwe “achieve a brighter future”, freed of Mugabe

‘Theresa May hailed the resignation of Robert Mugabe as an ‘opportunity to forge a new path’. The Prime Minister promised that Britain would help as ‘Zimbabwe’s oldest friend’ as the country emerges from 37-years of brutal dictatorship. His resignation tonight brings to an end days of tense stand off after the military seized control but allowed Mr Mugabe to shape his departure…as Zimbabweans pour onto the streets to celebrate, Mrs May struck a positive note. She said: ‘The resignation of Robert Mugabe provides Zimbabwe with an opportunity to forge a new path free of the oppression that characterised his rule. ‘In recent days we have seen the desire of the Zimbabwean people for free and fair elections and the opportunity to rebuild the country’s economy under a legitimate government. As Zimbabwe’s oldest friend we will do all we can to support this, working with our international and regional partners to help the country achieve the brighter future it so deserves.’ – Daily Mail

Cabinet Office searches Green’s computer history

‘Damian Green’s computer records during five years in government are being checked following claims that ‘extreme’ pornography was found on a machine in his office while in opposition. Sue Gray, director-general of propriety and ethics at the Cabinet Office, is understood to have asked officials whether there is any evidence of attempts to access pornography from computers used by Mr Green since he first became a minister in 2010. Theresa May’s deputy has been under investigation since November 1 following disputed claims by Tory activist Kate Maltby that he made unwanted advances towards her. But the sleaze inquiry has now been widened to look at claims by a former police chief that pornography was found on a computer in Mr Green’s Commons office during a controversial raid in 2008. Mrs Gray, who is leading the sleaze inquiry, has interviewed Mr Green about both Miss Maltby’s claim and the alleged pornography. She has also interviewed a string of his former staff in a bid to ensure that no further claims about his conduct are set to emerge. The review is said to have turned up nothing.’ – Daily Mail

  • Downing Street explores possible replacements – The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Who might replace Green?

Ministers plan to give Troubles veterans an amnesty, at long last

‘Ministers are drawing up plans to exempt all ex-servicemen from prosecution in Northern Ireland – in what would be a huge victory for The Sun. Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams yesterday claimed the Government was preparing to give an amnesty to nearly 1,000 veterans who served in the province. A draft document would be inserted into a consultation document on potential ways to deal with the toxic legacy of the Troubles. Mr Adams stormed that it was an “act of bad faith”. But campaigning MPs said the Government was finally showing respect to soldiers who were being subjected to a disgraceful “witch hunt”. Tory backbencher Richard Benyon told the Sun: “There are murderers walking free in Northern Ireland while old men who served their country well in impossible circumstances are dragged through the courts.’ – The Sun

  • They must be protected – The Sun Says
  • Senior defence official contemplates fighter jet cut – FT
  • Argentine politicians attack Royal Navy for helping search for lost submarine – Daily Mail

Momentum plans huge council tax rises to pursue class war

‘The group behind Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to the top of Labour is backing a policy to treble council tax to more than £10,000 year for people living in the largest homes. Far left activists in Bristol are proposing to increase council tax for the largest homes by 200 per cent to stop cuts to council services. The council tax changes could raise £25.8million if the owners of the top eight per cent of homes – around 15,266 households – paid the new charge. This would see those living in the most expensive ‘band H’ properties pay almost £10,800 a year, compared to the current £3,599.50 bill. The changes would affect band H properties, which are defined as being worth more than £320,000 in 1991 – roughly £1.2million today – when the homes were last valued for council tax purposes.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • Dugdale survives in her Party – now for the jungle – The Times

BBC raises concerns over proposed media censorship

‘New powers allowing pre-publication censorship of the media would have a “chilling effect” on investigative journalism, the BBC has warned. The newspaper industry has also raised objections to the Data Protection Bill, which is passing through parliament. It seeks to give individuals more control over their personal information and imposes harsher penalties on companies that misuse it. Journalists are granted significant exemptions to the rules if they are working to expose wrongdoing and criminality. However, there is concern that a clause of the bill would allow people who are under scrutiny to slow and even block investigations before they are published by appealing to the Information Commissioner’s Office. The BBC fears this would make the information commissioner a de facto regulator of the media with unprecedented pre-publication powers.’ – The Times

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: Businesses should stop panicking in the face of left-wing twitterstorms

News in Brief

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