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Friday, 15 March 2019

Chancellor vowed to spend £26bn if MPs back ‘smooth’ Brexit in political bribe

THE CHANCELLOR yesterday vowed to spend a whopping £26 billion if MPs back a “smooth” Brexit in a staggering political bribe.

Philip Hammond said the Treasury was ready to cut tax and plough money into the police, defence and social care if the Commons approved plans for an orderly departure from the EU.

AP:Associated Press
In a political bribe, Philip Hammond has vowed to spend £26bn if MPs back a ‘smooth’ Brexit[/caption]

But he said the plan to “fire up” the economy would be replaced by higher unemployment, higher prices and lower growth if the Commons pushed Britain to a No Deal.

It came in a low-key Spring Statement that showed growth this year could be just 1.2 per cent – the lowest since the credit crisis.

But the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said a huge rise in tax receipts, lower borrowing and a drop in debt interest payments had triggered a whopping windfall for the Treasury coffers.

It meant the Chancellor’s rainy day fund – held in reserve in case of a disorderly Brexit – had ballooned from £15.4 billion to £26.6 billion since October.

Mr Hammond told MPs: “the economy itself is remarkably robust and has defied expectations.

“And I can confirm that assuming a Brexit deal is agreed over the next few weeks – and the uncertainty that is hanging over our economy – is lifted I intend to launch a full three year Spending Review before the summer.

“If we leave the EU with a deal and an orderly transition we will see a Deal Dividend, an economy boost from recovery in business confidence and investment.

“The progress we have made will be at risk if we cannot secure a smooth and orderly exit from the EU.”

Treasury officials later confirmed the pot of money relied on an orderly Brexit. They said it could be used to help the Government keep a lid on taxes, invest in infrastructure or pay down the nation’s debts.

Reuters
Philip Hammond intends to launch a full three year Spending Review before the summer[/caption]

But experts said much of the windfall would almost certainly be earmarked for cash-starved public services.

Increasing Government spending by £7.9 billion would ensure the day-to-day budgets of Whitehall departments keep pace with the economy – rather than suffer further real-term cuts.

Furious arch Brexiteers tore into the Chancellor for his withering assessment of a No Deal.

Ex-Tory party leader Iain Duncan Smith said the Government was committing far more than £26 billion – £39 billion – in divorce payments to the EU.

Another Eurosceptic told The Sun: “What he ought to be saying is if there’s a No Deal, we’d use the money to stimulate the economy like never before.”

The OBR said a bumper tax haul in January meant borrowing in 2018-2019 would be £22.8 billion – £2.7 billion lower than expected in October.

Growth this year is likely to be just 1.2 per cent – down from an earlier forecast of 1.6 per cent – because of a collapse in business investment on Brexit uncertainty.

But the OBR said growth would pick up to 1.4 per cent in 2020 and 1.6 per cent in 2021.

Paul Johnson, director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said: “The medium term outlook for the economy remains unusually weak.

“Even so, the Chancellor has had yet more good news on the public finances.”

HOUSING CASH OLD

A ROW has erupted after it emerged the multi-billion pound housing boost in yesterday’s Spring Statement is old money.

Philip Hammond said he is ploughing £717million into building 37,000 new homes between Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

Reuters
It emerged the multi-billion pound housing boost in the Spring Statement had already been announced in the 2017 budget[/caption]

And he announced a £3billion affordable homes guarantee to back the building of 30,000 properties by housing associations.

But the Treasury confessed the money had already been announced by the Chancellor in the 2017 Budget.

Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey, slammed the Government for not finding more cash to tackle the housing crisis.

He said: “This is a massive missed opportunity. Hard-pressed Brits need more low-cost homes but got only hot air from the Chancellor today.

“Despite the housing crisis, there isn’t a penny of extra money in this reheated promise of more new homes.”

KNIFE CRISIS

POLICE will get a £100million cash injection to help tackle the knife crime crisis.

The extra funding will cover overtime costs and specialist units dedicated to combating serious violence.

UK Press
Policing will get a £100million cash injection to help tackle knife crime[/caption]

While the measure was welcomed by senior officers, the Police Federation have warned it is only a “short-term fix”.

Ministers have come under pressure to provide a financial boost for police following a spate of fatal stabbings.

Officer numbers have fallen by nearly 20,000 since 2010.

PERIOD POVERTY

ALL TEENAGE girls will be able to get free sanitary products from their schools from this September, Philip Hammond yesterday announced.

The Chancellor said he will fund the giveaway after headteachers warned schoolgirls are skipping school because they cannot afford tampons.

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Schools will be providing teenage girls with free sanitary products from this September[/caption]

Research released last year revealed nearly 140,000 girls had missed lessons in the past 12 months because of period poverty.

Paul Whiteman, boss of the headteachers union NAHT, said: “It is very welcome news that free sanitary products will be available in schools and colleges from the next academic year.

“Too many girls miss out on vital education each month as a lack of access to sanitary products forces them to miss school.”

Laura McClinton, from the GirlGuides, said: “We’re delighted that the government plans to fund free period products in English secondary schools.

“No student should miss out on their education because they can’t access period products.”

SUPER PC BACKING

A NEW supercomputer capable of 10,000 trillion calculations a second will get £79million.

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ARCHER2, a supercomputer at Edinburgh University, will receive £79million in funding from the spring budget[/caption]

Mr Hammond said the ARCHER2 machine at Edinburgh University keeps Britain at the cutting edge of innovation.


 


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