Budget Day: ‘Remainer Phil’ Announces Brexit War Chest

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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.

The chancellor painted Britain’s prospects in a positive light, emphasising that, “For the first time in decades, Britain is genuinely at the forefront of a technological revolution, not just in our universities and research institutes, but this time in the commercial development labs of our great companies and on the factory floors and business parks across the land.”

He put a strong emphasis on delivering for young people, first by announcing a cheaper rail travel for people up to the age of 30, and then, more sensationally, announcing the abolition of stamp duty for first-time buyers on houses below £300,000 — achieving a saving of £5,000.

An increase in the income tax personal allowance to £11,850 and the lifting of the higher rate threshold to £46,350 from April 2018 will also be welcomed by many, as will changes to the administration of Universal Credit, tweaks to VAT for police and fire services in Scotland, and other specific measures.

Schools and colleges are said to be in line for an extra £600 for every pupil who takes A-level maths, as part of a wider package of policies to encourage educators to push the subject, along with support for technology teaching and qualifications.

The UK Independence Party, which championed Brexit for years under former leader Nigel Farage and acted as the Tory Party’s only real rival for conservative voters outside Northern Ireland, was less than impressed, however.

“To establish [Britain] as a confident, prosperous, optimistic, and secure nation post-Brexit takes greater leadership than was on display this afternoon in the House,” commented Treasury spokesman Jonathan Arnott MEP.

“If the Chancellor truly cared about our national security, would he not have provided specific funds to reverse cuts to our police, our Border Force, and our Armed Forces?” he demanded.

“If the Chancellor truly wanted to prepare for Brexit, would he not now be announcing help for British companies through a Presumption of Buying British to replace the EU Procurement Directive, and by ensuring that we procure from British companies wherever it makes sense?”

Arnott summarised the Autumn Budget as one of “tinkering and gimmicks”, in which “The forgotten and abandoned working classes remain forgotten and abandoned.”

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