Budget ‘could be delayed’ following reshuffle
Cabinet minister throws timetable into doubt as Tory MPs threaten to rebel in protest at No. 10 power grab
Next month's budget could be delayed, a cabinet minister has said, amid reports some Tory MPs could rebel against it in protest at last week’s reshuffle which saw Number 10 effectively take control of the Treasury.
The government’s hotly anticipated plans for tax and spending for the coming financial year had been set for 11 March but the timetable was thrown into doubt after the surprise resignation of former Chancellor Sajid Javid on Thursday.
Javid stepped down after refusing the prime minister’s demand to replace his closest advisors with a joint team answering to Number 10. It followed reports the chancellor had clashed with Boris Johnson over maintaining strict fiscal rules set out in the manifesto which would have limited spending.
“At issue was who is in charge and profound questions about how a Conservative Party with its first decent majority in three decades can appeal to its base in the moneyed south and keep its new-found poorer voters in the north,” says Tim Shipman in The Sunday Times.
“Johnson’s team want to rethink the rule that means day-to-day departmental spending has to be balanced over a three-year cycle so they can put more into social care and the NHS,” he writes. While the rule allowing governments to borrow up to 3% of GDP to invest in capital spending gives the government £100bn to spend on infrastructure projects over the next five years “Johnson wants to spend even more”, Shipman says.
Javid’s sudden resignation just four weeks before he was due to deliver the budget has sparked speculation it could be delayed. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps did little to dispel these fears when he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr the government could not confirm the budget would “definitely go ahead on the same date as mentioned before”.
Plans for a so-called “mansion tax” on owners of expensive houses, which Politico describes as “one way of raising revenue to pay for all of the PM’s plans”, appears to have been vetoed by Johnson, “following a major backlash among Conservative MPs and grassroots”, says The Daily Telegraph.
The paper reports that the Treasury had also wanted to announce a nationwide revaluation of homes, which would have left millions of families with higher council tax bills, but “both policies are now ‘highly unlikely’ to feature in the budget amid concern about a backlash from MPs who warned of a tide of fury in their constituencies”.
Nevertheless, the Daily Mail reports some Tories will still oppose the government and vote against the budget when it finally comes before the Commons.
The paper says Boris Johnson is facing an “extraordinary” rebellion by Tory MPs “angered by the ruthless behaviour of his all-powerful adviser Dominic Cummings”.
With a majority of 80, the prime minister “does not need to fear losing the votes – but the rebels say they are determined to remind him that he is not an ‘absolute monarch’”, reports the Mail.
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important business stories and tips for the week’s best shares - try The Week magazine. Start your trial subscription today –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––