UN-Loving Snowflakes Accuse May of Undermining Rules-Based International Order

The snowflakes at the United Nations Association have had a hissy fit to accompany the visit of another UN special rapporteur to the UK in order to fill Guardian column inches investigate “extreme poverty”, releasing a patronising note to warn British journalists of the “consequences” of “negative media coverage during a special rapporteur’s visit”Terrible when an international organisation has to face some level of scrutiny…

They have also compiled a list of eight egregious examples of British politicians “engaging in rhetoric which undermines the value placed on the rules-based international order”. It features no fewer than two separate accusations against Prime Minister Theresa May and one against Philip Hammond, for such heinous crimes as criticising tank-chasing lawyers and daring to accuse a UN body of making a “ridiculous” finding. Send them to The Hague!

Former Foreign Minister Sir Huge Swire is also named and shamed as one of the top British saboteurs of the international legal order… for tweeting this adorable picture of him cuddling his dog:

It’s not like the UN has any more serious instances of countries undermining the international rule of law to be worrying about. Oh, wait…

UPDATE: An earlier version of this article referred to the United Nations as the easily-offended organisation – it was in fact the United Nations Association.

Batten Gets Gregg-on-Face

UKIP’s astute new leader has fallen for joke twitter account called “GuardianMemeWin“. The account describes itself as “the most insufferable newspaper parody account ever” in its twitter bio. Batten’s analysis was retweeted by the official UKIP twitter account…

Beleaguered Batten is not the only one to have fallen foul of a fake account. Yesterday evening CCHQ retweeted a fake, unverified Philip Hammond account. It even spelled his first name incorrectly…

After making that mistake too many times Guido tends to block parody accounts…

Front Page Phil Good Factor

The Treasury will be happy with the coverage the Chancellor got this morning. So far the budget hasn’t unravelled, because the ambiguity of the budget has meant the Labour counter attack and Corbyn’s irrelevant response are getting no traction. The commentariat is unclear if it really signals the end of austerity or not, it certainly signalled a slowing in the urgency of the effort to close the deficit…

Budget: The Think Tanks’ Verdict

Hammond appears to have avoided a Halloween horror show with several popular announcements including a freeze on beer, cider and spirits duty and bringing the income tax threshold rise forward to next April. However, fiscal hawks are alarmed at the rate of fiscal expansion. Here’s what the wonks made of it…

The Centre for Policy Studies is happy for now but calls for a more radical Budget post-Brexit:

“The focus on the end of austerity, giving hard working people more money in their pockets through tax cuts for 32 million people, and the largest ever increase in NHS spending without any rise in personal tax are hugely welcome. However we hope the Government pushes a more radical agenda that delivers for ordinary people once the Brexit deal is complete.”

The TaxPayers’ Alliance is broadly positive but calls for more serious tax reform:

“Increases in the personal allowance and higher rate income tax thresholds, with freezes to taxes on beer, cider, fuel and short-haul flights, will give much-needed breathing space to hard-pressed taxpayers. That said, the tax burden overall will be still be increasing. And to truly seize the opportunities afforded by Brexit, we should be looking at a much more serious and overdue reform of the tax code.”

The Adam Smith Institute is significantly less impressed, calling it a “botched budget”:

“What the Chancellor gave with one hand though, he took with the other as he hit firms large and small that make capital losses by restricting their exemptions—meaning less risk taking, less profit and fewer economic dividends… A digital revenue tax—lifted straight from the Corbynite playbook—will punish the millions of people who shop online and use online services every day.”

The Institute of Economic Affairs also takes aim at the “Fiddly Budget”:

“More broadly, it was a Budget littered with spending commitments across the board. In an attempt to signal the ‘end of austerity’, it appears this government has given up on deficit elimination… Fiscal responsibility is being sidelined, giving way to short-term giveaways and unaffordable pledges.”

As the Office for Budget Responsibility points out, the Government would have been on course to balance the books by 2023 with the unexpected fiscal windfall this year, but has spent it all already:

“Buoyant tax receipts and an improved outlook for employment have delivered the Government a significant fiscal windfall since March, sufficient to deliver its objective of a balanced budget by 2025. But this had already been swallowed up by the Prime Minister’s promise of more money for the NHS in June, to which the Chancellor has added a further near-term tax and spending giveaway. This leaves the medium-term outlook for government borrowing little changed since March.”

Balancing the budget was meant to be this Government’s fiscal priority, yet this Budget puts it firmly on the back burner…

Phil’s Potty Mouth

Big Phil spent over a minute making jokes about his mandatory business rates relief for public lavatories. There are some real groaners here…

Why is Hammond in Politics?

Phil Hammond says…

“I didn’t come into politics to raise taxes.”

Budget Photo 2018


The lady in red, Liz Truss, is wearing a £245 “Forever dress” from British designer, Karen Millen. The rest of the Treasury team are in dark grey suits.

Will this be Hammond’s last budget?

HM Treasury’s Morning View

Guido has given Rich the morning off and instead we are running the official Treasury budget day cartoon. A fitting memento for his last budget. The artist appears to have caught the personality of the Chancellor perfectly; flat and grey with spreadsheet to hand…

Hammond on No Deal Impact

“If we leave with no deal we will be in a different set of circumstances and it would require a different approach.”

Hammond: I Believe in Universal Credit

Hammond: No Deal Means New Budget

“If we were to find ourselves in that situation then we would need to take a different approach to the future of Britain’s economy.”

This is clearest sign from the Chancellor since January 2017 that a no deal Brexit would make the UK the tax haven of Europe

Hammond Can’t Back Brexit

 

Three times Big Phil Hammond was asked on Good Morning Britain whether he thought Brexit was a good idea, and three times he completely dodged the question:

PM: “Do you think Brexit is a good idea?”

PH: “Yes, the British people have determined that we are leaving the EU. Our challenge as a Government…”

PM: “So just to clarify… do you personally believe this is a very good idea for the country and that it will work?”

PH: “I have already answered your question. I’m a democrat, so I believe we should do what the British people have decided…”

PM: “But that’s not what my question is… do you personally, as the Chancellor… believe that this is a good thing for the country that we’re doing, and do you personally think it will be successful and a positive thing for the country…?”

PH: “…Delivering the plan that Theresa May has set out…”

As Theresa May herself said, “you can only deliver Brexit if you believe in Brexit”. How does she expect to be able to do that if her Chancellor doesn’t agree?

Hammond’s Halloween Budget

It’s set to be All Hammond’s Eve next month as Philip Hammond has decided to go for October 29th as the date for this year’s Budget – just two days before Halloween. He’ll be hoping the voters don’t get spooked…

Guido can already imagine the headlines. Will it be a Halloween Horror Show or Death to Taxes?

‘Operation Yellowhammer’ Picture Leaked Accidentally On Purpose?

Another careless aide has been snapped in Downing Street flashing a Treasury briefing about no deal Brexit planning. The planning has been dubbed ‘Operation Yellowhammer’ and appears to show penny-pinching mandarins at the Treasury encouraging departments to fund no deal planning through “internal reprioritisation”, despite £3 billion having already been set aside for no-deal planning in the last budget by a reluctant Philip Hammond. Some speculation that it was accidently on-purpose rather than cock-up…

UPDATE: It now emerges that the indiscreet note-carrier was not a hapless aide but in fact Treasury Minister John Glen. Either he’s cunning or a bit of a clutz…

Hammond Hires Taxpayers’ Alliance Alumna Sonia Khan

Guido can reveal that Chancellor Philip Hammond has hired Sonia Khan to join his team as a media SpAd working alongside Poppy Trowbridge. Hammond’s other media SpAd Giles Winn will be moving into a broader SpAd role. Khan has held a number of press roles around Whitehall, most recently press secretary to Liam Fox in the Department for International Trade. She is also an alumna of the Taxpayers’ Alliance. At least there is now one tax cutter in the Chancellor’s office…

Anti-Heathrow Cabinet Minister Abroad For Tonight’s Vote

All eyes on Boris’ whereabouts, which cannot yet be reported for security reasons, though it’s worth noting he is not the only Heathrow Cabinet critic who is missing tonight’s vote. Philip Hammond has long opposed a third runway, telling the Telegraph in 2010 that the idea was “Dead. Dead as a Norwegian parrot”. In 2015, he told his constituents he backed expanding Gatwick instead:

“London’s role as an international air transport hub can be maintained without additional runways at Heathrow. A second runway at Gatwick, plus enhanced transport links between the airports and better transport links to London will create a ‘virtual’ hub airport, maintaining Heathrow’s role in the local economy without expanding it.”

Hammond has sent a solitary tweet backing the government this morning, but we know what he really thinks. He will be defying the three line whip when he misses the vote in Mumbai tonight…

Ruth and Hammond’s Radical New Tory Ideas: More Taxes, More Spending, More Regulation

After a month of think tank launches and relaunches, op-eds and policy papers discussing the new radical policies the Tories need to win the next election, Ruth Davidson and Philip Hammond have come up with the uninspiring, unoriginal idea of high taxes, new regulations, more intervention, more borrowing and more public spending.

Ruth today says the Tories have cut taxes far enough and demands more money for the NHS, presumably funded by tax rises or extra borrowing. Her call comes the day after Tax Freedom Day, the point in the year at which the average person starts to actually keep what they earn rather than pay it to the state in taxes. That day now comes later than at any time since 1995 – even worse than under New Labour. Government spending is at £30,000 per household. There is room to solve the housing crisis and make sure the NHS is properly funded while bringing down overall spending and lowering taxes.

Hammond, meanwhile, is planning a speech arguing that Thatcherite free market capitalism is no longer fit for purpose and that greater state intervention is needed to win over young voters attracted to Corbyn. This is such a lazy analysis of the the 2017 result. The ‘youthquake’ theory has been largely debunked, polls are showing a clear trend towards young voters now preferring the Tories to Corbyn, and under 25s are more likely to think the government taxes and spends too much already. As are 25-39 year-olds and 25-49 year-olds. 

Ruth and Hammond’s blunt big state approach is not new, it’s not original, it’s not radical, it is the same, tired, old ideas of more taxes, more spending and more regulation. Not only does it concede ground to Labour and play Corbyn’s game – and he can always promise more spending and regulation than the Tories – it doesn’t even correctly identify the direction in which young voters want to see the country to go. Will Tory members and voters really go for it?

Hammond a Rule-Taker on Instagram

Liz Truss’ Instagram is a thing of wonder – at the launch of Freer the other night she defended the rights of “young people to put pictures of themselves on the internet”. Alas it turns out not everyone is a fan. Liz recently snapped this selfie of the Treasury team sitting on the frontbench in the Commons. Guido hears Phil Hammond, a stickler for the rules which dictate photos cannot be taken on the parliamentary estate, did not expect it to appear online and made his feelings about the breach known to the photographer. Hammond takes Insta very seriously – a private account called ‘Terrier About Town’ follows the lives of the Chancellor’s two dogs Rex and Oscar. Any journalist who attempts to follow is immediately blocked. Who called the fun police?

Phil’s Box Office McDonnell Takedown

Spreadsheet Phil delivers a surprise box office finale to the Spring Statement with his blistering reply to John McDonnell. The Chancellor made the point McDonnell is still refusing to apologise to Esther McVey over his infamous “lynch” comments, and also picked him up over Russia Today. Phil ya boots…

Spreadsheet Phil’s Red Book Banter

This one-liner from Hammo at McDonnell’s expense was a cracker, but thankfully not as many jokes as last time round.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Trevor Kavanagh’s analysis of the Brexit process…

“Thanks to Mrs May and her useless Chancellor Phil Hammond, this will not come without pain. But we escape with imagination and true British grit or we will be boiled alive.

It means on this centenary Remembrance of our struggle against tyranny, we risk ceding non-military victory in Europe to the undemocratic forces of an unaccountable totalitarian regime.”

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