‘Rave reviews for Rishi Sunak’s budget may age quickly’
Your digest of analysis and commentary from the British and international press
Stephen Bush in the i
Rishi Sunak has brought back austerity – the question is whether it will cost the Tories the next election
on a brave budget
“Why did the Conservatives win a majority in 2015 but lose it two years later,” asks Stephen Bush in The i. One answer is that the “unsustainability of austerity” alienated too many voters under both David Cameron and Theresa May, he says, and for subscribers to this view, Rishi Sunak is on course for “political disaster”. His budget, which includes a large number of tax rises but also £4bn worth of spending cuts, announces “austerity is back”. But the chancellor may find that voters “have no appetite” for it. Sunak’s gamble lies in his personal popularity, which could see his “explicit argument for fiscal restraint” cut through with the public. But if the chancellor is wrong, the “rave reviews for his budget may age quickly”.
James Forsyth in The Times
Brexit allows us to be immigration liberals
on immigration reform
“Not so long ago, immigration was the issue that troubled Brits the most,” writes James Forsyth in The Times. But today, just 2 per cent of voters say it is the country’s most pressing issue. Maybe it’s the “Covid effect” or perhaps “the end of free movement and the resumption of border control has taken much of the heat out of the issue”, he says. But the country’s dramatic shift in attitude can be seen in the “remarkably uncontroversial” policy towards offering visas to Hong Kongers following China’s National Security Law. “Something has changed utterly” and it is now up to Boris Johnson to deliver a “more sensible policy, to make this a country that seeks out talent from around the world”.
Tom Harris in The Telegraph
Global Britain’s divergence from the vindictive EU has left Remainers with nowhere to hide
on 20-20 hindsight
“Like cold war warriors still arguing over the rights and wrongs of the Berlin Wall, die-hard Remainers and Brexiters seem locked in an eternal battle over export duties, free trade and immigration,” says Tom Harris in The Telegraph. But the EU’s decision to block exports of Covid vaccines to Australia just so happens to be “relevant to those arguments of the recent past and presents a difficult, perhaps insurmountable, challenge to those who insist that we were wrong” to deliver Brexit. While the EU has started to “monitor exports of the various vaccines from the EU to third countries”, he continues, “xenophobic, intolerant Brexit Britain... is distributed worldwide at cost – in other words, without profit – to developing countries”. “Brussels has exhibited all the traits we were told would embody Brexit Britain.”
Philip Collins in the New Statesman
Why the government must reverse the drastic cuts in aid to Yemen
on aid cuts
After the decision by the government to cut aid to Yemen, “the conditions are in place for a huge and avoidable tragedy, and we are walking away”, argues Philip Collins in the New Statesman. Former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell stated the UK is “complicit” in the region, providing arms to Saudi-led coalition forces. “These are dire regimes to be wrapped up with,” Collins continues. The “direct result” of this “egregious” decision to curtail aid is that children will die, he adds. “For shame.”
John Bowers and David Isaac in The Guardian
Ignore this manufactured crisis: free speech is alive and well in our universities
on a free speech ‘crisis’
There is “scant evidence” for what Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has called a “chilling effect” on the expression of cultural, religious or political views at UK universities, say John Bowers and David Isaac in The Guardian. And his “magic solution”, to create a “free speech and academic freedom champion”, is a non-starter. Indeed, there are “provisions galore” already covering freedom of expression, which themselves have been criticised for being “overly complex”. “But the government proposes to make it considerably more complicated.” Virtually all meetings at higher education institutions do go ahead, they say. And “the government should focus on the most significant challenges” facing higher education post-Covid.