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Autumn budget 2021: Fast growth gives Sunak chance to splash the cash

“Rishi Sunak is expected to use up to £30 billion from the proceeds of faster growth to invest in public services and reduce borrowing when he unveils his budget today. The chancellor will declare that Britain can start looking beyond Covid to “an economy fit for a new age of optimism”. The country’s sharp rebound from last winter’s lockdown means that the economy is predicted to grow by about 7 per cent this year, the chancellor is expected to say. This is nearly twice as much as the 4 per cent predicted by the Office for Budget Responsibility in its March forecast. The faster growth and better-than-predicted employment figures mean that Sunak is likely to have between an extra £20 billion and £30 billion to spend when he lays out his plans.” – The Times

  • Sunak’s promised pay rise to be in name only, public sector fears – The Times
  • Chancellor will commit to have Britain’s £2.2trillion debt falling by next election in Budget for ‘post-Covid’ age – The Sun

Analysis:

  • Winners are clear — but what else is on the cards? – The Times
  • What time is Sunak’s speech and what will be announced? – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

Political sketch:

>Today:

Public ‘want a referendum on Johnson’s net zero plans’ by next general election

“The British public are in favour of a referendum on the Government’s net zero proposals, a new poll has shown. Forty two per cent of adults said they supported a vote on the plan, whilst 30 per cent opposed it, and 28 per cent did not declare a preference, according to a YouGov survey conducted this month. When the “don’t knows” were excluded from the results, a majority of 58 per cent wanted a ballot on the issue. The survey showed that of those who expressed a preference, more than 50 per cent of each category polled supported a referendum on net zero. This included 18- to 24-year-olds, middle class voters, Londoners, Remainers, both men and women, and Liberal Democrat backers.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Davies brands PM’s environmental push ‘utterly futile virtue signalling’ ahead of Cop26 summit – as even PM admits progress at global event is ‘touch and go’ – Daily Mail
  • Households ‘will pay up to £200 for energy supplier failures’  – The Times
  • Ministers unveil model for funding new wave of power stations with Sizewell C set to get the go-ahead – but China won’t be involved and electricity prices will rise – Daily Mail
  • Net zero CO2 emissions pledges offer hope of avoiding climate catastrophe, says UN – The Times

>Today:

Paterson faces Commons suspension for breaking lobbying rules

“A former Conservative cabinet minister has accused the Commons anti-sleaze watchdog of being partly responsible for his wife’s death after he was found guilty of an “egregious” breach of lobbying rules. Owen Paterson, a former environment secretary, faces being banned from the Commons for a month after a cross-party group of MPs determined that he had lobbied repeatedly for two companies that were paying him. Should MPs approve his suspension of 30 sitting days, Paterson will face a recall petition, giving his constituents the ability to force him out in a by-election. Paterson, 65, said yesterday that the two-year investigation led by Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, had contributed to his wife’s suicide in June last year.” – The Times

Ministers back down over keeping sewage out of waters

“Ministers have bowed to pressure to clean up rivers and the sea and announced a plan to impose a duty on water companies to reduce the impact of sewage discharges from storm overflows. The government faced a rebellion from its backbenchers and campaigners had accused Boris Johnson of hypocrisy for hosting Cop26 while failing to protect rivers from pollution. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that an amendment tabled today by the government to the Environment Bill “will see a duty enshrined in law to ensure water companies secure a progressive reduction in the adverse impacts of discharges from storm overflows”. The Rivers Trust hailed the announcement as “a victory for the thousands of people who have made their voices heard on the issue of sewage”.” – The Times

Coronavirus 1) High case rates are ‘partly down to more tests’

“Do not “bash the UK” for its high Covid-19 case rates compared with other countries, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group has said, as some of the difference is simply because of more testing. Professor Sir Andrew Pollard told MPs that while transmission rates were clearly high, comparisons with other nations did not take into account different testing regimens. This might partly explain why UK case rates are four times those in Germany and eight times those in France. “If you look across western Europe, we have about ten times more tests done each day than some other countries per head of population,” Pollard told the Commons science and technology committee.” – The Times

  • NHS Test and Trace criticised as ‘eyewatering’ waste of cash – Daily Telegraph

Analysis:

  • Do vaccine passports work? That depends on the aim – The Times

Coronavirus 2) Face masks become mandatory in the Commons – for everyone except MPs

“Face coverings have become mandatory for everyone working in the House of Commons – apart from MPs – in new guidance released by Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker. Sir Lindsay and his team said compulsory masks would “ensure that those on the estate are safe while business is facilitated”. People with “legitimate exemptions” will not be required to wear them. The Commons authorities do not have the power to force MPs to wear masks but can require them for all other staff on the parliamentary estate, including contractors, MPs’ researchers, catering and security staff and journalists. The change to the guidance comes after a debate over mask-wearing in Parliament in which members of the Cabinet disagreed over whether they should be worn.” – Daily Telegraph

Ministry of Defence berated over Kenya ‘hotel killing cover-up’

“The Ministry of Defence has been criticised for its handling of claims that a British soldier murdered a Kenyan prostitute and the army covered it up. John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, has written to his opposite number, Ben Wallace, saying the response by his department has been “totally inadequate” and asking why it has not begun a murder inquiry or looked into claims senior officers were told about the death and did nothing. Johnny Mercer, a former veterans minister, said that he did not believe army culture was “all toxic” but that the MoD’s inability to deal with serious incidents was “pathetic”.” – The Times

Rename science buildings with eugenics links, Imperial College London is urged

“Imperial College London should remove a statue and rename buildings and lecture theatres that celebrate scientists whose work advocated eugenics and racism, an investigation has recommended. The report by the university’s independent history group identified contentious scientific figures who have been honoured with buildings, rooms and academic positions in their names. It called for a building named after Thomas Henry Huxley, the English biologist and anthropologist who was celebrated for determining that birds descended from dinosaurs, to be renamed because of his beliefs about human intelligence.” – The Times

Comment:

  • Topple Jefferson’s statue and no one is fit to stand, Lionel Shriver – The Times

>Today:

Queen pulls out of Cop26 summit after advice to rest

“The Queen has pulled out of hosting a reception for world leaders at the Cop26 climate change summit, Buckingham Palace has confirmed. The monarch, 95, was due to travel to Scotland for the high-profile engagement on Monday. A Palace spokesman said: “Following advice to rest, The Queen has been undertaking light duties at Windsor Castle. Her Majesty has regretfully decided that she will no longer travel to Glasgow to attend the evening reception of Cop26 on Monday. “Her Majesty is disappointed not to attend the reception but will deliver an address to the assembled delegates via a recorded video message.”” – The Times

News in brief: