Today’s PMQs was fairly subdued as the Budget followed, it always is in these situations, so I’ll merge the two as seamlessly as the government’s Brexit plan.
It is International Women’s Day and the Tories were beaming they have had two female PMs. Thatcher did literally nothing for women’s rights, but that doesn’t matter when you are gloating at the opposition. Victoria Atkins, Con, announced it was 2-0 to the Tories over women PMs. Sometimes results flatter to deceive.
Corbyn challenged the PM on the “sweetheart deal” with Surrey council boss, which she had claimed were “alternative facts,” which we now all accept as the “truth”, which have now been confirmed in a leaked recording. May shrugged it off, who cares about accuracy these days anyway?
Now to the budget, see you couldn’t even tell we had switched? First off, as a child of Thatcher’s 80s individualism, I am directly impacted by today’s budget. As a self-employed journo (violins at the ready) who struggles every day to make money, the Chancellor effectively slapped an extra income tax on us brave pioneers/lazy freelancers (delete as appropriate). The Conservative’s also promised not to do this in their manifesto, but who cares about that in our post-truth world.
The Chancellor upgraded growth to 2% in 2017, announced there will be reduced borrowing and less debt compared to GDP. It sounds great, but these figures must be based on our current economy, without a huge change in the fabric of our nation, like possibly Brexit for example.
You get the feeling they can say what they want, if the targets are not hit, they hold up their hands and say “Brexit screwed us.” It’s a get out of jail free card and they can wash their hands with it, the public chose this, they are just trying to fulfill their will, the best they can.
The elephant in the room was Brexit, which Hammond didn’t directly refer to, considering the government is planning to invoke Article 50 in a matter of days, it seemed bizarre, like ordering a Sunday lunch, without meat, potatoes, Yorkshire puddings or veg.
There have been rumours of a “war chest” to use if Brexit becomes a catastrophic mess. Think of this as two A-list stars signing pre-nups, knowing it will all go horribly wrong, probably within two years of their wedding day.
Sadly, there is no war chest though, we are in £1.7tn in debt and are borrowing £50bn this year. All Hammond can do is borrow £45bn in 2020 rather than the £20bn he outlined in his budget statement.
Surely this would mean another round of austerity later post-2020. We could be looking at well over a decade of austerity. One to tell the grandkids, around the campfire, which also niftily doubles as your only source of heat for the family.
Hammond previously warned that Brexit was going to be a roller-coaster but he hasn’t even bought the ticket to get on the ride, and has no idea how much it will cost to get on, but he still is eager to jump the queue.
The Chancellor better hope he is getting onto the Colossus rather than riding into Oblivion.
Sycophantic question of the day
Amanda Milling, Con, who praised record female employment, most women on FTSE boards, closing gender pay gap…and our “amazing female PM.” I rammed my pen into my eardrum, to try and drag the brown-nose praise back out of my brain.
Brexiteers, for them it is like a ride to the fairground. Scream if you want to go faster…