Morning Briefing: Hammond's Brexit Budget dilemma - 1m sign for Final Say - slowly rolling over
Philip Hammond intends to use his “last Budget before Brexit” today as a tool to make Theresa May’s miserable deal look more appealing, by pitching it against the chaos of crashing out with no deal at all. But he’s giving people a false dilemma. There’s a third way which would avoid Brexit’s hit to the public finances - a People’s Vote.
Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Hammond said that if the UK were to leave the EU without a deal, the government would “need to take a different approach to the future of Britain’s economy and frankly we’d need to have a new budget that set out a different strategy for the future”.
While the newspapers - including the FT, Telegraph and Times - interpret this as a simple threat of “no deal, no end to austerity”, Hammond wasn’t actually clear about what his “different strategy” would be. Higher taxes, less public spending, or more borrowing? All are possibilities, though none would be pleasant for a Conservative government which has pinned its legacy on deficit reduction but is now facing an electoral backlash from years of austerity.
Hammond was also unclear what kind of UK economy would emerge from no deal. His comments resurrected the spectre of slashing protections - for the environment, welfare and workforce - to create a finance-sector-driven “Singapore on Thames” to compete with our EU neighbours. Labour’s John McDonnell was quick to slam this prospect in a separate interview with Sky.
The truth is the Chancellor was unable even to claim we'd be better off with May's Chequers car crash, never mind the disaster of a no-deal Brexit: he simply tried to dodge the question when asked by Marr. The Treasury’s own figures, leaked earlier this year, show that every form of Brexit will damage the public finances. Indeed, the prime minister’s Chequers proposal will throw up barriers to trade with our larger trade partner for vast swathes of our economy including services. The result will be felt in lost growth and less revenue for public services. The economy has already lost £500m a week in lost growth since June 2016 - this will be just the start if the government gets its Brexit deal over the line.
Back in 2016 people did not vote for emergency economic policies and a slash-and-burn approach to social protections. But they didn’t vote for Theresa May’s miserable Brexit either, where we would be turned into a rule-taker and also damage our economy and public finances. There is no Brexit dividend. Happily there will be alternative when the negotiations are over: a People’s Vote.
Video of the day
1 million back Indy’s Final Say petition
The Independent's petition for a Final Say hit a million signatures this weekend - a huge milestone for the campaign! Thanks to everyone who has backed our movement over the last few months. We’ve achieved a lot - as anyone at the People’s Vote march last weekend will tell you. We know May and her ministers will try to ignore the upsurge in public opinion. That’s why people need to get in touch with their MPs to let them know how strongly they feel about being given a voice on Brexit. It just takes a minute to do this with our handy tool. Click here and ask your friends to as well.
Tweet of the day
Rolling towards disorderly Brexit
The UK has managed to “roll over” only 14 of the 236 international treaties that the EU has signed with countries around the world, the FT reports. The deals we need to replicate include trade pacts with over 60 countries - which Liam Fox promised to have ready for “one second after midnight” on March 29 2019.
One critical deal the trade secretary is struggling with is to sort out our independent membership of the World Trade Organisation. Several other countries, including Russia, are using our desperation to squeeze commercial advantage from us, according to the Guardian. But there also other key agreements, for everything from airlines’ take-off and landing rights at overseas airports, to industries such as financial services, fisheries and nuclear. These arrangements are all benefits we have from being inside the EU.
Quote of the Day
“Other countries may see Brexit as an opportunity to reopen these [treaties], to get more out of the UK, rather than just roll over the existing agreements.
“They may have their own time-consuming domestic ratification processes. Agreement on how these treaties apply to the UK may also depend on what the UK’s future relationship with the EU looks like.”
An individual briefed on the slow “rolling over” of EU agreements with other countries explains to the FT why this process is not proving as easy as Brexiters expected.
Video of the day 2
Any hope that Angela Merkel will ride to Theresa May’s rescue will be knocked by regional elections in the German state of Hesse. Merkel’s CDU party clung to power but lost ten points - undermining her national coalition too. Both May and her predecessor David Cameron have hoped the German chancellor would help them out on Brexit. This hasn’t proven true. Germany is a strong defender of the EU project, shown by Merkel’s constant warnings against British “cherry picking”. Now she might be too distracted even if she wanted to step in. That leaves Emmanuel Macron’s France, which has taken an even tougher line than Germany, an increasingly dominant voice among EU states.
More Brexit news…
Luciana Berger: Brexit will be a disaster for the social care sector, leaving women at a particular disadvantage (Independent)
Matthew d’Ancona: This budget may not survive the coming Brexit hurricane (Guardian)
Gina Miller: There is no denying that a Final Say on Brexit is the true will of the people (Independent)
Today, Monday 29th October
|12:30||Pre-Budget Cabinet briefing|
Home Office questions in Commons
Tomorrow, Tuesday 30th October
|-||150 days until Brexit day|
Theresa May at Northern Future Forum of northern European states
Eurostat: EU GDP levels
|11:30||Foreign Office questions in Commons|
|13:30||Immigration minister, Border Force, HMRC and NCA evidence to home affairs committee|