When Philip Hammond set the date for the Spring Statement, he and the Prime Minister never thought that it would end up falling right in the middle of the crucial Brexit votes in Parliament. The result is that the Chancellor ended up in a position where it was a distraction that he couldn’t get out of – like doing a speech at a staff party when you’re planning mass redundancies.
So what to do? The first thing was to try and talk a lot whilst saying very little. Something that isn’t that challenging for a politician. Then, Philip Hammond has tried to cover his options. First by lobbying to vote against a No Deal outcome tonight and second with political electioneering in case another general election has to be called.
So what did we get? Upbeat announcements without any significant spending commitments designed to woo younger and lower paid voters. If you’re tempted by voting for Labour then Phil is keen for you to know that his government:
- have introduced over 100 measures to tackle tax avoidance since 2010;
- want to be seen as caring about the environment (especially bees);
- want to support training for young people by accelerating some already announced apprenticeship measures;
- are keen to support the low paid by reviewing minimum wage levels;
- are tackling anti-competitiveness by tech giants with competition law changes;
- want to build more affordable houses; and
- understand concerns over knife crime and availability of sanitary products.
You may see all of this again shortly on an election leaflet.