Budget: Hammond to spend £900 million cutting business rates…

“Almost half a million small retailers will have their business rates cut by a third for at least a year as part of government efforts to reinvigorate high streets. The chancellor will use the budget on Monday to provide £900 million of rate relief for small business and a £650 million fund for local authorities to redevelop town centres. Planning rules will be relaxed to allow shops to be converted into offices, homes or a mixture of retail and office space. High street retailers are under pressure from online stores, which do not have the same rents, business rates and staff costs and can sell the same goods more cheaply. Consumers have been hit by the cheap pound, which has driven up retailers’ costs. Philip Hammond aims to make the revival of high streets a centrepiece of his budget. He hopes to reinvent them as communal areas with more cafés, restaurants and leisure activities.” – The Times

  • Chancellor to deliver income tax cuts – Daily Telegraph
  • Hammond to crack down on charities charging commission on Gift Aid – The Sun
  • Plans to review marriage law to ‘boost hospitality sector’ – Daily Mail
  • Budget to tackle ‘gap-toothed high street’ – FT
  • Small shops to receive business rates relief – The Guardian
  • Chancellor urged to rip up PFI contracts – The Sun


  • Will Hammond use his big moment to show the Government’s resolve? – James Forsyth, The Sun
  • Ignore colleagues’ beauty parades and deliver a truly Conservative budget – Priti Patel MP, Daily Telegraph
  • Stakes for Hammond could not be higher – Peter Oborne, Daily Mail
  • Tax tinkering in the Budget will not be enough – Bronwen Maddox, FT


  • Give us a brave Budget to drive the country forward – The Sun

>Yesterday: Joel Davidson and Amir Sadjady in Local Government: Bold measures are needed from Hammond next week to save our high streets

…and billions more upgrading the road network

“A multibillion government plan to build hundreds of miles of roads will be announced in the budget, The Times has learnt. Philip Hammond is expected to outline a programme to upgrade and maintain motorways and key A-roads over a five-year period by ring-fencing vehicle excise duty. It is intended to tackle serious bottlenecks while creating extra capacity on the network. Highways England is expecting funding of between £23 billion and £28 billion from 2020 to 2025. It will be one of the biggest single upgrades of the network since the expansion of the first motorways in the Sixties and Seventies. The upgrade will be part-financed through a dedicated “roads fund”, a pot created by using the £6 billion a year raised through vehicle excise duty. The announcement is unlikely to impress environmental groups who argue that greater resources should be invested in public transport rather than more roads.” – The Times

  • Road pricing could replace fuel duty in future, think tank suggests – Daily Mail
  • Furious MPs demand fuel giants slash prices – The Sun

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Hammond has one task only in next week’s Budget. To show that the Government is preparing for No Deal.

Blow for Fox as hopes of fast-track WTO deal hit the buffers

“Liam Fox has suffered a setback in his bid to secure fast track normalisation of the UK’s World Trade Organization commitments before Brexit, conceding that Britain faces the prospect of lengthy negotiations. In another indication that renegotiation of Britain’s post-Brexit trade relationships was proving harder than some Leavers anticipated, the International Trade Secretary admitted that several WTO members had “expressed reservations” about the UK’s plan to copy and paste the EU’s international trade commitments. Britain is a full member of the WTO but the terms of its membership are bound up with those of the EU. As a result, Britain has to have its own independent WTO schedule after it leaves the EU. Mr Fox had been hoping this would be a straightforward technical exercise. But some countries in the 164-member WTO raised objections to this fast-track approach, forcing the UK into a lengthy negotiation.” – FT

  • Kremlin seeks to capitalise on Brexit – The Guardian
  • Cox’s intervention prompts Khan to say Brexit will be delayed – Daily Mail
  • British plan to hire ships to beat French ‘no deal’ blockade – The Sun


  • Americans ‘gorging on tales of panicked Britons’ – The Times
  • May slaps down suggestion Brexit will boost Argentina’s bid for Falklands – The Sun
  • Varadkar ‘confident’ that a hard border can be avoided – Daily Express


  • A Norway-style Brexit should be enough for a country as divided as ours – Tom Harris, Daily Telegraph
  • We urgently need an insurance plan for no deal – Frank Field MP, The Guardian
  • May must ditch the DUP and its ‘blood-red line’ – Brian Wilson, The Scotsman
  • Why the Attorney General will matter on Brexit – James Blitz, FT
  • Britain shouldn’t tie itself into a voiceless pact with an EU that is changing fast – Juliet Samuel, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: The Scottish dimension of the Irish backstop cannot be overlooked

MEPs warn against letting EU nationals vote

“Letting European Union citizens vote in British elections will wipe the Tories out at the polls, senior politicians have warned. Conservative MEPs said giving voting rights to up to 3.2million Europeans who are expected to acquire the right to live in the UK after Brexit was pushing the ‘self-destruct button’. They fear the party would face electoral wipeout in town hall elections as EU citizens punish them for Brexit. Most EU nationals living in Britain cannot vote in general elections but can elect local councillors. Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, a leading Brexiteer, says he has seen a draft of the EU Withdrawal Bill showing the UK will protect these voting rights post-Brexit. A Government spokesman said the issue was ‘not within the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement’ and bilateral deals would be struck over UK nationals living in the EU and UK nationals living in the EU.” – Daily Mail

  • Legal row over EU citizens’ ‘settled status’ post-Brexit – FT

Javid says grooming gangs ‘disgraced our heritage’

“Sajid Javid has said Pakistani members of grooming gangs have “disgraced our heritage” and that there “must be some cultural connection” to their crimes. The home secretary was criticised for his reaction to the jailing of 20 men in Huddersfield for drugging, trafficking and raping vulnerable girls. “These sick Asian paedophiles are finally facing justice,” he tweeted last week. “There will be no no-go areas.” David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, was among those who attacked Mr Javid, whose parents moved to the UK from Pakistan, for drawing attention to the ethnicity of the gang. In an interview in The Times today, Mr Javid says: “It makes me feel angry… how they’ve disgraced our heritage… [There] must be some cultural connection, some reason.” In July, Mr Javid commissioned research into characteristics of child sex abuse gangs. “I like to be driven by the evidence,” he says. “That’s why I ask the experts.”” – The Times

  • Interview with the Home Secretary – The Times

Sharma defends Universal Credit

“Universal credit cannot be solely blamed for the rise in food bank use in areas where the benefit is being rolled out, the minister for employment has said. Alok Sharma was responding to a report from a committee of MPs that found the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had a “fortress mentality” that prevented it from tackling the “unacceptable hardship” created by the switch to universal credit. With the chancellor under intense pressure to act in his budget next Monday to cushion the impact of the new system, the public accounts committee said the government had ignored the concerns of those affected. Universal credit is the most radical change to Britain’s welfare system in decades, rolling six benefits into one, which is paid in arrears to mimic a monthly wage packet.Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sharma insisted the message he was getting from jobcentre staff and claimants was that they were much happier with universal credit.” – The Guardian

Cox agrees to meet MPs campaigning for Ulster veterans

“Government law boss Geoffrey Cox has vowed to meet campaigning MPs demanding an end to witch hunt probes against Troubles veterans. This week 150 Tory MPs and peers signed a letter to PM Theresa May blasting new plans to investigate past crimes. The letter, which was hand-delivered to Number 10, begged the PM to: “Put in place a lasting legal protection for our Armed Services and Security Personnel, wherever and whenever they serve.” It was signed by MPs Mark Francois, former Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon plus veterans Bob Stewart and Johnny Mercer. They accused the government of breaking the Armed Forces Covenant – its manifesto commitment to personnel. Now insiders say as a direct result of their letter heavyweight government law boss Cox – a top QC – will meet with the MPs behind the letter and hear their concerns.” – The Sun

>Today: Nick Hargrave’s column: The Conservatives should be thinking ahead about a future border poll in Northern Ireland

Perry ‘failed to record’ meeting with fracking companies

“The government wants Britain to export its approach to fracking around the world, the energy minister Claire Perry has told the shale gas industry. Details of Perry having a private meeting with fracking firms have emerged, as the 17th minor earthquake was recorded since the shale company Cuadrilla began fracking near Blackpool earlier this month. Perry and officials met with all the key shale players – Cuadrilla, Ineos, iGas and Third Energy – along with oil and gas companies including BP on 21 May. While her meeting with wind power executives on the same day was recorded on an official transparency register, the shale event was not… When asked what would be considered a success, Perry said “several wells in production” and a “line of sight to commerciality”. The industry is a long way from that point. Cuadrilla has only just begun exploratory fracking on two horizontal shale wells to test whether enough gas flows for the company to consider raising more finance and moving to commercial production.” – The Guardian

Tobias Ellwood: We can’t let the bad guys win, at home or abroad

“We can’t let the bad guys win. The growing acceptance of bad behaviour has led a minority to calculate that violence or any wrongdoing will go unchallenged. The real first responders will always be the public, not emergency services, who cannot be omnipresent. The more who step forward, the more likely it is that we can close down unacceptable behaviour. It does not take many to send a powerful message of deterrence – and there are parallels for us as a nation. A failure to stand up to nations with hostile intent encourages further errant behaviour and is copied by others. We see it with the erosion of the world’s so-called ‘rules-based order’. As with personal behaviour, a failure to check breaches in international norms risks it becoming the norm – leaving us heading in a worrying direction on international security, from China and Russia to Africa and the Middle East.” – Daily Mail

  • Syria trips by clergy and peers ‘undermine UK’ – The Times
  • Dozens of MPs accept hospitality from regimes with poor human rights records – Daily Mail

Davidson celebrates arrival of a son

“Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson today announced she has given birth to a baby boy. Ms Davidson, 39, said she and her partner Jen Wilson, 36, were ‘delighted’ after the infant’s safe arrival at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary this morning. They have named their first child, who weighed 10lb 5oz, Finn Paul Davidson. Ms Davidson said the baby was ‘loved’ – but also joked that the couple’s pet dog Wilson was jealous. The new arrival quickly drew congratulations from the political world. Ms Davidson has previously spoken of their struggles with IVF, and is now expected to take maternity leave. Theresa May was among the well-wishers who tweeted her congratulations, writing: ‘Many congratulations to you, Jen and Finn! Wishing you all every happiness for the future.’.. Former minister Hugo Swire said it was ‘wonderful news’, while West Midlands mayor Andy Street also got in early with congratulations.” – Daily Mail

Green to launch a formal complaint against Hain

“Sir Philip Green is set to lodge a formal complaint against the Labour peer who named him as the businessman at the centre of #MeToo allegations of sexual harassment and racial abuse. Earlier this week Lord Hain used the protection of parliamentary privilege to identify the Arcadia chairman as the individual behind a legal injunction preventing The Daily Telegraph from publishing ‘confidential information’ from five employees. Sir Philip Green has told the BBC’s business editor Simon Jack that he intends to complain to the Lord’s authorities that Lord Hain failed to disclose he had a financial relationship with the Telegraph’s lawyers. Lord Hain acts as a global and governmental adviser for the law firm Gordon Dadds. The former cabinet minister said he had been ‘completely unaware’ it was acting for the Telegraph in the case. However Mr Jack said Sir Philip had told him that if Lord Hain had read the judgment he would have seen the firm’s name on the first page.” – Daily Mail

  • Lawyers attack ‘shameless assault’ on the rule of law – The Times
  • Ex-minister says billionaire businessman bullied her – Daily Mail


  • Our attitudes to sex and swearing show how very modern it is to be Victorian – Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

Head of election watchdog quits

“The head of the Electoral Commission has quit following a series of claims that the body has been biased against Brexit. Claire Bassett has resigned as chief executive of the elections watchdog, while three commissioners who publicly opposed leaving the European Union will also go. The commission has faced accusations of unfairness from Brexiteers, who claim it has focused on allegations of wrongdoing by the Leave side. But allies of Miss Bassett, who is joining the newly established UK Trade Remedies Authority (TRA), insist her move is unrelated to criticism of the commission. Bridget Prentice, Lord Horam and Professor David Howarth, who sit on the watchdog’s board, are all stepping down this month at the end of their four-year terms. The trio stirred controversy after it emerged that they had all voiced opposition to Brexit while in their posts.” – Daily Mail

Thousands of Scottish teachers to march in pay protest

Thousands of Scottish teachers are expected to march today to try and force John Swinney to capitulate in an increasingly bitter row over pay. Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), said the national demonstration in Glasgow was a sign that angry teachers “are not prepared to sit back and take it any more.” Scotland’s first national teachers’ strike since the 1980s moved a step closer as the EIS reacted with fury to Mr Swinney’s claims that his pay offer was “generous and fair”. Mr Flanagan accused the Education Minister of making a “cynical and divisive” offer that attempted to “pit teacher against teacher”, with lower paid staff being offered larger rises. But Mr Swinney has refused to bow to the union’s demand for a 10 per cent pay increase and insisted his offers compares favourably with that given to other public sector workers.” – FT

News in Brief:

  • After austerity – Oliver Wiseman, CapX
  • The West should support democracy in the Middle East, for real this time – Taha Ozhan, Reaction
  • We must be clear we are willing to walk away with no deal – Derek Epstein, Brexit Central
  • The death of American civility – John R MacArthur, The Spectator
  • Mystery of the disappearing pay rise – Peter Franklin, UnHerd