Philip Hammond embarked on a £25 billion giveaway yesterday in an effort to counter growing political and economic headwinds with extra money for housing, the NHS and Brexit. The chancellor delighted Conservative MPs by scrapping stamp duty for first-time buyers, handing a tax break worth an average £1,660 to a million mainly younger voters. He earmarked an extra £3 billion to ready the country to leave the EU, appeasing Brexiteers such as Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, and raising the stakes with Brussels before key talks this week. Mr Hammond also caved in to pressure for an emergency £2.8 billion bailout for the NHS. He promised to fund a pay deal for nurses and ditched plans for another round of Whitehall cuts.
Local authorities will be able to charge a 100 per cent premium on council tax on empty properties, the Chancellor has announced. Philip Hammond handed town hall leaders the power to hike taxes on vacant houses and flats, to dissuade property investors from allowing homes to sit empty while many struggle to find somewhere to live. A number of councils have already urged the Chancellor to scrap the cap on council tax – currently set at 50 per cent – to tackle so-called “buy-to-leave” landlords, an issue which was cast into the spotlight in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.
Philip Hammond promised £3 billion extra to prepare for Brexit in a budget that went some way towards repairing his relations with Brexiteers. The chancellor pledged the money for “all outcomes”, including no deal, on top of £700 million already committed. This represents a U-turn, coming six weeks after signs there would be no spending in the budget for “no deal”. Mr Hammond had written in The Times that “we will only spend [money for all outcomes including a no-deal scenario] when it’s responsible to do so.” Yesterday’s sum appeared designed to heal the huge backlash from Tory Brexiteers that the piece generated.
Philip Hammond today announced a further £3 billion for Brexit over the next two years as he said the government must be prepared for a ‘no deal’ scenario. The chancellor said he had already spent £700 million on preparing for Brexit. But said that the UK must be “prepared for every possible outcome” as he revealed the new cash in his Budget speech. And he said that the Tories would commit “further sums if and where needed”. He said the government is committed to “seize” post Brexit opportunities for Britain in a relationship based on “free and frictionless trade in goods”.
With his position in Cabinet reportedly on the line, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has delivered an Autumn Budget which he claims will prepare Britain for Brexit. Hammond told the House of Commons that his budget prepares Britain to “seize the opportunities” from Brexit — although he has appeared to resist releasing funds to prepare the country properly for a ‘No Deal’ scenario up to now, particularly with respect to strengthening border and customs controls. As the Cabinet’s strongest advocate for a partial Brexit which would keep the UK in the EU’s Customs Union and Single Market, critics suspected Hammond’s failure to prepare was deliberate — but he revealed today that £700m has already been spent getting ready for Brexit, and that a further £3bn has been set aside, with the possibility of more if it is needed.
Philip Hammond abolished stamp duty for most first-time buyers today as he offered an optimistic vision for Britain’s future in a Budget designed to appeal to the younger generation. The Chancellor put solving the housing crisis at the heart of his second Budget as he promised to make home-owning “a reality, not just a dream” for those currently priced out of the market.
Rationing will be stepped up in the National Health Service next week after managers said the £2.8 billion boost from the budget was not enough to reduce waiting or halt cuts. Ministers insisted they had made a special case of the service by promising the one-off injection along with £3.5 billion for infrastructure. In a commitment not made to other public sector workers, money to pay nurses and other frontline workers more has also been promised next year if talks on contract reform succeed. However, NHS England risked widening a rift with the Treasury by saying that the money would not plug the hole in health service finances.
JACOB Rees-Mogg has said it was a “schoolboy error” for Treasury forecasts to suggest Britain would pay £3.5billion into the coffers of the European Union in the year after Brexit. The outspoken Tory backbencher raised the issue after spotting figures in Budget documents from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) outlining an “own resources contribution” to Brussels in 2022 and 2023. Speaking during the Budget debate, Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “This is rather like spotting an error in Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, something that is very rare to do and indicates an occasional failing that I hope will be put right and we will discover that this is not intended. “Because if it is, it means we won’t in fact be stopping our contributions to the European Union, and that would be very strange.
Brits are benefitting from a rise in wages for the first time in years, after the Brexit vote and a subsequent shortage of labour across sectors, the Bank of England believes. Whilst not specifically mentioning immigration, bank economists spoke of “labour market tightness leading to upward wage pressure,” which is likely to be linked to a fall in the availability of migrant labour. Gertjan Vlieghe, who sits on the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, has said: “We are hearing a lot that firms are finding it more difficult to recruit, not just in isolated sectors but there is more broad-based pressure. They are starting to respond to that by paying a little more. “I am also hearing from a lot of people that their employees seem more confident to be willing to move jobs for higher pay, whereas previously they might have stuck with what they had.
British and EU negotiators are moving closer to thrashing out a deal over the so-called ‘Brexit bill’ as optimism rises on both sides of a deal in December that will open the door to trade talks, senior EU and UK sources have both told The Telegraph. While sources on both sides confirmed “we are not there yet” the contours of a deal over the so-called Brexit bill appear to be emerging, in which the UK would implicitly commit at least €40bn – and potentially more – but without agreeing to a figure in public. Senior EU sources said that the text of an agreement in December would allow the UK to minimise the public figure of the ‘bill’ in order to protect Theresa May, while leaving room for it to be interpreted to the satisfaction of the EU side.
THE “ground is shifting” over Brexit talks after the EU said it is now “willing” to help strike a deal by December as time is running out, it has been revealed. Theresa May will deliver movement on three key conditions so that her EU peers can launch a new phase of Brexit negotiations when they meet on December 14-15. An EU diplomat said: “I feel the tectonic plates moving now. Time is running out and a failure in the December Council would serve nobody’s purpose.” Mr Barnier had been expected to hold a formal round of talks with British Brexit Secretary David Davis in the week starting December 4. But EU officials say planning is still up in the air and one official said there could be a high-level meeting as soon as next week, possibly on Friday.
MPs have voted against a Labour bid to retain EU human rights measures in UK law post-Brexit after the Government offered Conservative rebels an eleventh-hour concession. The amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill was defeated by 311 votes to 301, giving the Government a majority of just 10. Just one Conservative MP, Ken Clarke, defied the Government whip and voted for the motion to retain the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, put forward by Jeremy Corbyn. Civic organisations warned over the weekend that individual rights to privacy, equality, freedom of expression, fair working conditions, a fair trial, access to a lawyer and the protection of personal data are all in potential jeopardy if the charter is stripped from the UK state book after Brexit, in March 2019.
BRITAIN’S chances of securing a Brexit breakthrough at next month’s crucial European summit are now as high as 70 per cent after EU officials were left impressed by “switched on” UK negotiators. The head of an influential think tank said the increased personal involvement of Theresa May and Treasury mandarins in the divorce talks has left eurocrats much more optimistic of success. Charles Grant, boss of the pro-EU Centre for European Reform, said Brussels was bowled over by the “impressive” performance the PM gave when she met EU Council chief Donald Tusk last week. And he predicted that European leaders will be prepared to accept Britain’s latest offer on the Brexit bill, thought to be around £36 billion, with the issue of Ireland more likely to hold up progress.
Gibraltar is heading for an abrupt exit from the single market without the benefit of any transition deal, according to senior Spanish government sources, who revealed that the British government had failed to offer any proposals on the future of the Rock. The EU shocked Downing Street in April when it effectively backed Spain in the centuries-old territorial dispute. In guidelines outlining their approach to the Brexit negotiations, the 27 member states insisted Gibraltar would be outside any future trade deal with the UK unless an agreement was reached in advance with Madrid over its future status. A Spanish government source said this stipulation included any deal on a transition period designed to soften the blow for the UK of falling out of the single market and customs union by retaining the status quo for a period after withdrawal.
THREE European Union countries will have to stump up a massive £5.3 billion a year between them to cover the huge budget black hole set to be caused by Brexit, a Brussels report has revealed. Germany, France and Italy will have to bear the brunt of the financial hit caused by Britain’s departure from the bloc according to calculations made by the European Parliament. Their estimates, published in a report released earlier this month, show that Berlin is on the hook for an extra £3.4 billion a year hike in its contributions alone – a 16 per cent rise. Germany is already by far the biggest net contributor to the pot, putting in around £12.4 billion, and is going through a tough political patch with Angela Merkel unable to form a coalition.
The European Commission has given a Budget Day boost to Philip Hammond, announcing that it will be taking the UK off the list of countries with too-large spending deficits. Naming the Chancellor personally, Pierre Moscovici, the EU finance’s commissioner, told reporters in Brussels that the UK would be removed from the EU’s Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP). The economics chief said the UK had “durably” reduced its deficit, meaning it would no longer be subject to the potential fines and economic sanctions for having a higher deficit. Britain’s austerity economy is one of the last countries to come off the list, which numbered 24 in 2011 after the financial crisis but has now dwindled to two with the UK’s belated departure.
David Miliband, the former Foreign Secretary who now runs a George Soros-linked refugee charity, has called on the EU to take in more than half a million refugees, ten times the target it has set itself for the next few years. Speaking to EU Observer, the elder Miliband brother said that Europe can either accept unregulated irregular migration or make a better effort of creating legal pathways. He says that he is pressing the EU to take in 540,000 migrants over the next five years. His charity has recently teamed up with Ben and Jerry’s, the ice cream makers, to run a campaign to lobby the EU to take in more refugees. Westmonster is amazed at how very few outlets are actually connecting the dots with all of Soros’ sock puppet campaigns. Whilst the migrant crisis spirals out of control, the likes of Miliband want even larger numbers to come to Europe.
BRUSSELS today ordered struggling Italy to “get in line” and slash its debt levels as it issued spending alerts about six eurozone countries – but gave Britain a clean bill of health. Eurocrats praised Philip Hammond for reducing the UK’s structural deficit from a dangerous high of 10 per cent left behind by Labour in 2009 to just 2.3 per cent now. They recommended that Britain be formally withdrawn from the EU’s excessive debt procedure, which imposes limits on Government sending, just a year before the country is due to quit the bloc. But EU officials raised grave concerns about budget plans elsewhere in Europe saying that six eurozone countries are set to miss the spending to debt ratio ceiling imposed by Brussels. They especially sounded the alarm about struggling Italy, which has been in the economic doldrums for years, saying that its levels of debt are now a “reason for concern”.
The Tories have a four point lead over Labour according to a new opinion poll – despite being hit by the sex harassment scandal and losing two Cabinet ministers in a week. The Kantar Public survey put the Conservatives on 42 per cent, ahead of Labour on 38 per cent, the Lib Dems on nine and Ukip on five. The poll suggests that despite a bruising few weeks for the Government the public still trust Theresa May to be leading the country in No10 over Jeremy Corbyn. Downing Street figures hailed the poll – which was published yesterday and before Philip Hammond‘s Budget – as good news. Mrs May’s chief of staff Gavin Barwell wrote on Twitter: ‘When you’re still at your desk 17 hours after you arrived at work, this is the kind of news you want to see.’
Deaths jumped 40 per cent last winter after the flu vaccine failed to protect the elderly, official figures show.Some 34,300 more people died between December and March, mainly the elderly — one of the highest figures in recent years, according to the Office for National Statistics. Deaths during the winter are about a fifth higher than in summer. The high figure for last winter was up from 24,580 in 2015-16, probably because of a flu strain that hit the elderly. Jodie Withers, a health analyst at the ONS, said: “The increase is likely due to the predominant strain of flu prevalent during the 2016-17 winter, which had greater impact on the elderly than the young.”
NHS chiefs last night signalled cuts to patient services after warning extra cash promised by the Chancellor was not enough to plug the funding gap. Despite a £1.6billion Budget boost as well as £350million to cope with winter pressures, hospital leaders said it came to less than half of what it needs. NHS England bosses said they would now meet to discuss what services they can “deliver to patients with the money available”. Chief executive Simon Stevens warned earlier this month the waiting list for hospital operations could hit 5million as he called for at least £4bn in the Budget. It would mean one in 10 adults will be on the waiting list. He also hinted controversial rationing policies adopted in some parts of the NHS could be rolled out nationally and expansion plans for mental health and improvements in cancer care could stall.
As Philip Hammond announced a cash boost for the NHS to help them prepare for the winter months in this year’s Budget, ITV News visited hospitals already already coming under increasing demand. The Chancellor announced an immediate £350 million boost to deal with the months ahead acknowledging the pressure Trusts are under. In response to the Budget, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “The government recognises it is our most important public service, it’s under a lot of pressure. “And what the NHS said to us is ‘Look, you may not be able to help us solve all the funding pressures in the NHS in this Budget but please recognise some of our immediate concerns and immediate pressures’, which is what this does.”
A GIGANTIC three-mile-wide asteroid will zoom past Earth next month. And it’s named after the ancient god who nearly wiped out humanity. The space rock 3200 Phaethon is due to brush “quite close” to our planet on December 17, Russian astronomers have revealed. The asteroid’s unusual orbit brings it closer to the Sun than any other named asteroid. And this year it will fly past the Earth within 10km – close by space standards. NASA has previously described the comet as a “potentially hazardous asteroid whose path misses Earth’s orbit by only two million miles”. The object orbits the Earth every year and is aways accompanied by the Geminid meteor shower, which will be visible as the comet crosses over us between December and 14.