DD Slaps Down Hammond on Divorce Bill

David Davis says Philip Hammond was “not right” to suggest Britain would pay exit money to the EU under any circumstances. Hammond made the comments in a select committee appearance earlier this week. DD said on Marr this morning:

“It is conditional on an outcome… it is conditional on an implementation period, a trade outcome and also the other elements of the treaty, security, foreign affairs…”

Sorry Phil…

Hammond: We’ll Pay Divorce Bill Even If There’s No Deal

Well done Phil, great negotiating tactic.

Hammond: We Don’t Know What We Want From Brexit End State

Philip Hammond has confirmed to the Treasury select committee that the Cabinet still hasn’t discussed what the Brexit end state will look like, i.e. whether it will be the convergence non-Brexit preferred by him, Jeremy Heywood and Olly Robbins, or a real Brexit in which we properly diverge from the EU. It has been 18 months since the referendum, it’s mad the Cabinet has not even discussed what Brexit Britain will look like. If the government has no idea on the end state, are they even ready to move onto the next stage of talks?

“Technical Problems” With Hammond’s Plane

Today’s Times has a belter of a story about the MoD banning Philip Hammond from using RAF planes and helicopters until the Treasury settles his jet-setting bills. An epic tale of briefing and counter-briefing after Team Hammond dubbed Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson “Private Pike” in the Mail on Sunday.

Yesterday Hammond was late for his meeting with EU finance ministers – journalists were told “because of technical problems with his plane”. Were the technical problems that the RAF wouldn’t let him on board?

Tax Cuts in the Budget

Guido spotted a few welcome if modest tax cuts in the budget:

  • Stamp Duty cut worth up to £5,000 to first time buyers
  • Personal allowance will rise to £11,850 tax free
  • The higher rate threshold will rise to £46,350*
  • Tax break for transfers of North Sea oil and gas fields
  • Increase in the business R & D tax credit to 12%

A couple of freezes:

  • Fuel duty frozen again this year
  • Froze air passenger duty
  • Beer duty frozen
  • No new tax levies for renewables until 2025 at least

*Given the Scottish higher rate of tax kicks in at £43,000 canny Scots who file their tax returns in England will save themselves a few quid.

Have co-conspirators spotted any more cuts?

Hammond’s Banter Budget: All the Jokes

Some real groaners…

OBR: Hammond’s Budget Rabbit Will Increase House Prices 0.3%

Hammond’s abolition of stamp duty for first time buyers might be a tax cut, but it doesn’t go anything like as far as the Institute of Economic Affairs, Adam Smith Institute and Taxpayers’ Alliance were hoping (they wanted it abolished for everyone). This line from the OBR is a tough one for the government to explain: the policy will increase house prices by 0.3%.

Given the OBR’s forecasting accuracy this is a rounding error that is less than the cash value of the stamp duty cut…

May-Hammond Cough Sweets Double Act

Wahey!

Autumn Budget Photo 2017

The Chancellor now stuck in traffic on Whitehall…

Hammond Re-Announces Existing Tory Housing Policy

Philip Hammond says housing is the “number one priority” for his Budget, well he’d better hope he’s got more in his locker than what was pre-briefed to the Sundays. The top line announcement of 300,000 new homes a year is already Tory policy – just last month Sajid Javid was using the same number. Not only is Hammond’s ‘new’ target not new, it is also entirely underwhelming. Last year 217,000 houses were built and that didn’t make a dent in the housing crisis. A meagre increase of a quarter is nowhere near what Tory MPs have been asking for. Saj reckons they need to spend £50 billion to make a difference, Hammond is offering just £5 billion.

The verdict from the experts is damning – the Times‘ property correspondent says “even for current government’s standards, this has to be the weakest set of measures to fix the housing crisis seen in a long time”. The Chancellor’s other damp proposal to launch an inquiry into landbanking is classic Hammond and already has industry figures groaning. Meanwhile the think tanks are tearing their hair out, with the Institute of Economic Affairs bemoaning his refusal to countenance building on the green belt and the Adam Smith Institute arguing stamp duty should be abolished. Last week the government were promising us “real action” on housing and a Churchillian effort from Hammond to get Britain building. He needs something much bigger than this on Wednesday…

Hammond: There Are No Unemployed

Uh oh. Phil Hammond clumsily tells Marr “there are no unemployed people” – despite the number of unemployed being 1.42 million. In context itis clear he meant technology had not increased unemployment. He was forced to insist he hadn’t “forgotten” them. Labour will be banging on about this forever…

Hammond to Deliver “Real Action” on Housing in Budget

Tory MPs considered the pre-conference promise of 5,000 new homes a year derisory to the point of being insulting to voters. Good news is coming in the Budget, though. Number 10 chief of staff Gavin Barwell says in a rare tweet that Hammond is going to do “more” next week:

And Sajid Javid adds this morning that the Chancellor is going to show a Churchillian drive to deliver “real action” on house building:

“Faced with the crisis of the Second World War, Churchill demanded “action this day” so the country could rise to the challenge. And, faced with an unprecedented housing crisis, that’s what you’re going to get from this government. Real action, day after day, week after week, to give this country a housing market that works for everyone. In next week’s Budget you’ll see just how seriously we take this challenge, just how hard we’re willing to fight to get Britain building.”

Right Phil?

IMF Says UK GDP Growth Mid-Table for G7

Anyone following the arguments will have heard the Remainers’ refrain that the UK has gone from having the fastest GDP growth in the G7 to the slowest GDP growth in the G7. That has never rung true to Guido. The latest IMF forecast – which should still be treated with scepticism – puts UK GDP smack bang in the middle of the G7 growth table. Behind Canada, the US and Germany, ahead of France, Italy and Japan for 2017. Treat this with scepticism because the IMF predicted the UK would be in the depths of a recession by now…

Other forecasts are even better; the German Council of Economic Experts predicts German GDP growth will be 2% in 2017 and Britain’s equivalent the OBR predicts UK GDP growth will also be 2%. Hardly the hit you read about in the FT…

GDP forecasts are unreliable approximations, it is fair to say the UK economy is not racing away, it is nevertheless growing and the interest rate rise from the Bank of England is a sign that the MPC think growth is far from weak. Phil Hammond’s budget needs to drive home good economic news to boost confidence…

Arms Folded in Unity

Actually not a bad ad lib from Corbyn pointing out that Amber Rudd was keeping Boris and Hammond apart at PMQs.

Positive body language… sorta.

Hammond: EU “Silly” For Not Moving Talks On to Next Stage

Philip Hammond has given an interview to CNBC, where he demanded an end to “the infighting on our own side”, insisted “we’re gonna be prepared” for no deal and called the EU “silly” for refusing to move talks onto the next stage.

“The biggest sticking point of the moment is process. The European Union have decided on a process to follow. And it’s become apparent that that process isn’t going to facilitate the most effective negotiation… This seems like a rather silly thing for us to get hung up on. If we could just have a talk about this round the table I’m sure pretty sure we’ll unstick it.”

Guido agrees with Phil…

Tory MPs’ Two Nicknames For Hammond

Tory MPs have been texting each other using their two favourite nicknames for Philip Hammond this week (see the i for more). Remember when Nick Robinson accidentally called the Chancellor “Spread Sh*t Phil”? Tory Brexiters see it as an apt description of his downbeat Brexit assessments, though equally it could describe his “enemies” intervention this afternoon. More recently backbenchers have taken to calling Hammond “PH1”, since he is so sour about the referendum result. He has certainly left a bad taste this week…

Hammond Calls Brussels “The Enemy”

If Boris had said that Remainers would be calling for him to be sacked. This obviously won’t endear Hammond to Brexiters, it will just inflame tensions with Brussels. Is he trying to lose his job?

UPDATE: Hammond repents:

Lawson: Sack Saboteur Hammond

Nigel Lawson calls for Philip Hammond to go: “what he is doing is very close to sabotage”. Strong words summing up some of the Brexiteer feeling towards the Chancellor this week…

Mail Calls on May to Sack Hammond

The Daily Mail, which has remained steadfastly loyal to Theresa May and whose view she values highly, says “treacherous” Hammond must go:

“Dismal, defeatist, relentlessly negative, Philip ‘Eeyore’ Hammond might just as well run up the white flag to Jean-Claude Juncker and the Brussels bureaucracy. At every stage in the Brexit process, the inordinately self-satisfied Chancellor has struck a profoundly pessimistic note over the country’s prospects in the wider world outside the European Union. In defiance of Theresa May, he has called for a three-year transition period after withdrawal, while welcoming the doom-mongering CBI’s calls for an indefinite delay…

It is not as if the man is much of a threat to her. With all the charisma of a gloom-laden undertaker, he has no personal following at Westminster. Nor has he so far proved an effective Chancellor. On the contrary, his Budget was a disaster, with his hastily withdrawn plan to attack the self-employed. Meanwhile, there are capable replacements in the wings…

At the earliest opportunity, she needs a reshuffle to stamp her authority on the party and give new talent the chance to revive the Cabinet. What is absolutely clear is that this lack of grip cannot go on. At this crucial juncture in our history, we need a Government with vision and purpose — not half-hearted, lugubrious appeasers like Mr Hammond.”

Today’s Sun editorial meanwhile calls Hammond “grossly negligent”. May wanted to fire Hammond after the election but the result meant she was too weak to go through with it. The broadcasters and Remain media obsess about Boris’ perceived disloyalty, when there was nothing in his 4,000 word article which contradicted government policy. Hammond on the other hand has consistently argued with Number 10, whether on the customs union, length of the transition, budgeting for no deal or his general gloomy tone. May had to slap him down once again yesterday. Compare and contrast the broadcasters’ coverage of Hammond and Boris to see where their views lie…

Hammond: No Cash For No Deal “Until the Very Last Moment”

Only a few bombs dropped by Hammond at the Treasury select committee this morning.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Former public schoolboy Chuka Umunna told the  ‘Exit From Brexit Dinner’…

“Remainians, Remoaners, I don’t care what the label is, I’m proud. It’s fashionable to label everyone in this room as the liberal metropolitan elite . . . This caricature is promoted by a bunch of former public schoolboys!” 

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