The Spring statement

Today the Chancellor should confirm what the published figures have been telling us for some time. The deficit is lower than planned as his fiscal squeeze has been tougher . The government has collected more tax than planned, despite shortfalls on Stamp Duty and VED where they put rates up too much. Lower corporation tax rates and higher income tax allowances have helped or not impeded  increased revenue from both sources.  As a result of a combined monetary and fiscal squeeze the economy has slowed more than is desirable, at the same time as the Euro area economy has been hit by recession and slowdown.

What should he do about this? First, he should express concern that a slowdown is happening and signal he intends to do something about it. The Fed in the US has backed off from a monetary tightening that was damaging the US outlook, the Chinese authorities have announced tax cuts and monetary relaxation to deal with their slowdown and the European Central Bank has announced more cheap loan facilities for commercial banks in their territory. Where is the UK response?

Second, he should cut tax rates for Stamp Duty and VED where high rates have cut revenues. CGT is another one where a high rate is deterring  property sales. These cuts would boost revenue more. He should remove VAT from green products and from domestic fuel to celebrate our exit from the EU and relieve fuel poverty.  He should cut income tax further, and make a substantial reduction in business rates. He can afford to reduce his total tax demand, as well as cutting rates that will raise more money.

Third, he should increase spending where a good case can be made for better public service as a result. Social care, schools and the police are three priority areas where asking for bids for more money to improve services would be a  good idea.

The Chancellor lets the story run in the press that he will spend more if we vote for the Withdrawal Agreement. Now he has to make up his mind what to do knowing the result of the vote.  He could afford to spend even more and tax less  if we  just leave without the Agreement, as we will save all that money that otherwise goes to the EU.


  1. Kevin
    March 13, 2019

    “if we just leave without the Agreement”

    Speaking of which, MPs are expected today to vote against “no deal”. But after they have had the vote, we need to determine if they meant a “hard” no-no deal or a “soft” no-no deal. I favour the latter, as long as that amounts to no no-no deal at all.

    1. Hope
      March 13, 2019

      JR, second sentence untrue. Osborne claimed twice at elections and it was your central economic plank to balance the structural deceit by 2015. It was repeated again then abandoned. To say the deficit is lower than planned is a shocking falsehood.

      A bit like May saying no deal is better than a bad deal. Nothing agreed until everything agreed knowing a trade deal was not being discussed! Your govt made it its policy and law. Today your govt allowed free vote to vote against it. While last July dictator May forced her servitude plan on cabinet after showing it to Merkel and EU first leavers issued a warning cars were waiting to take leave Ministers away!

      General election please. Your govt has betrayed the nation and repeatedly lied with strap lines to deliberately deceive the public. May offers options of remain only under false headings. Time is up today. You need to oust the govt, vote this govt out, or it needs to be forcibly removed. May is allowing ministers to vote against the law they created to leave the EU. Never in history have we witnessed traitors in govt acting against our national interest.

      Your blog is wasted because you have already made the point several times that Hammond deliberately caused this economic situation to help his cause to remain in the EU by another name and two treaties.

      Reply I was not commenting on Osborne forecasts as these have been amended by Hammond. He has tightened more than his published plans.Osborne failed to hit his targets as you say

      1. Hope
        March 14, 2019

        Not just Osborne. Hammond made the claims as well before the last election, he just delayed the date! Then he revised and abandoned! Yesterday he said it would be balanced by mid twenties if we choose! This was the reason given for going into office with Lib Dems, it was the central theme to three elections. You need to correct what you claim. It is false.

        You cannot believe a word he says about the economy nor his side kick Carney. Remember Carney’s predictions and tests! Where was the interest rate rise when unemployment fell?

      2. James
        March 14, 2019

        Our less than enlightened Chancellors have forced ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers to carry haversacks full of rocks. Mr Hammond now wants to level the playing field by forcing online retailers to also carry haversacks full of rocks. The way to level the playing field is to lighten the load on ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers not to impose additional burdens on online retailers which will only result in higher prices being charged. The best thing Mr Hammond can do would be to just get the entire gamut of public sector wastrels and interfering busybodies out of the way, and concentrate on measures that will boost production. Stop getting in the way between producers and their customers.

    2. jerry
      March 13, 2019

      @Kevin; ‘no deal’ is no deal, in the same way as someone can not be “a little pregnant”, a woman is either one of the other!

    3. Bob
      March 13, 2019

      Mrs May has now said she won’t leave without a deal. She’ll be voting against her own manifesto commitment.

      How can this nonsense be allowed to continue.
      We need a General Election now to drain the Quisling swamp.

      1. Alan Jutson
        March 13, 2019


        You will only drain the swamp when local associations can only choose from local candidates !

        1. a-tracy
          March 14, 2019

          Well, local associations should say if they can’t choose their own candidate they won’t support an imposed candidate end of.

        2. Bob
          March 14, 2019

          I was actually thinking of UKIP taking over and running the country.
          Have you seen their manifesto?

          And UKIP is a party with conservatism and UK independence in its DNA unlike the Tories.

      2. ian wragg
        March 13, 2019

        Just goes to prove she was working for the other team and had no intention of securing any type of sensible deal.
        Surely voting against your own manifesto should be grounds for impeachment.

      3. Peter
        March 13, 2019

        DUP and genuine Leavers could possibly withdraw support and force such an election.

      4. Leslie Singleton
        March 13, 2019

        Dear Bob–Maybe true, but what we don’t want is an election with the same Tory leader. I shall, as they say, scream if I have to read one more time about her doggedness, perseverence etc. She is always wrong – stubbornly so – and worst of all, totally lacking in any ability to inspire. The idea of her regarding it as her duty to see it through is bonkers. Get Boris in charge pronto–at least prople might pay attention to what he says–apart from going through the motions, nobody could care less what she says or doesn’t say.

      5. Merlin
        March 13, 2019

        I disagree entirely.

        I think the ERG has just defied the will of the British People.

        17.6 million voted for Brexit, and the very people who engineered it have the gall to vote it down because it’s not ‘their’ Brexit.

        Shame on the ERG and all the other Brexit-traitors.

        1. Principled
          March 14, 2019

          Merlin, sadly as you should well know May’s deal is not BREXIT in any shape or form. The devil is in the detail. Her proposed deal is obscuration at it’s worst!

        2. Edward2
          March 14, 2019

          Clever twist of logic Merlin.
          But polls show only a small percentage of voters back the WA.
          The WA is not actually leaving the EU.
          So those opposing it are following the wishes of the people.

        3. a-tracy
          March 14, 2019

          Ooooo Merlin, was it you that wrote the ERG Wiki page?

          It’s not the ERG that are Brexit-traitors, Leavers know who the ‘traitors to Brexit are’ every vote that is made is revealing.

      6. a-tracy
        March 13, 2019

        The withdrawal agreement was decided by a majority of the house to be a bad deal, she said no deal is better than a bad deal and that is what she has said repeatedly. What did the DUP say about a no deal scenario in their manifesto?

      7. Stephen Priest
        March 13, 2019

        It comes to something when the Mother of Parliaments is against democracy

    4. oldtimer
      March 13, 2019

      An amendment, called Malthouse 2, has been tabled which will answers some of your questions. It calls for publication of tariffs (they are now published this morning), an Article 50 extension to 22 May to allow businesses time to adjust, mutual standstill agreements with the EU until December 2021 during which time the UK will pay a sum equivalent to its net contributions to the EU, and a unilateral guarantee of the rights of EU citizens in the UK.

      It apparently has the support of Conservative Remainers, Leavers and the DUP. Whether it will be called for a vote will be up to the Speaker. Whether it will get passed by the HoC is anyone’s guess. If passed it would provide a rational way forward for someone who believed in it. But it won’t satisfy those who are totally opposed to Brexit. At the least it would flush out those MPs who vote against their own party manifestos. Should make for another interesting evening.

  2. Peter
    March 13, 2019

    Firstly great news that the Withdrawal Agreement was defeated again. Geoffrey Cox deserves thanks for his honest assessment of the legal position. He did not put political goals ahead of truth.

    Don’t expect the Chancellor to come out with anything that helps Leave.

    Leavers should now be reminding the country of the promise that ‘No Deal is better than a bad deal’. They should explain that May has it in her power to leave on WTO terms regardless of any votes in Parliament. She will make use of such votes because she is a Remainer who is unwilling to deliver the manifesto promise and she will attempt to share the blame with other Remain MPs.

    The long battle to deliver Brexit continues.

    1. Nicholas Murphy
      March 13, 2019

      On balance, today’s release of our Tariff Schedule should be good news for the No Deal case. I wonder, though, how much media coverage it will get.

    2. eeyore
      March 13, 2019

      I hope the Chancellor will be able to give the House details of the cost of extending A50. Yesterday the Telegraph said £1bn a month. Plus the rest no doubt.

      Meanwhile the EU are not enthusiastic about extension unless the UK has something new to offer. Frankly, one begins to have sympathy with them.

    3. Norman
      March 13, 2019

      “Leavers should now be reminding the country of the promise that ‘No Deal is better than a bad deal’.”
      Dear … (sent yesterday evening)
      I’m glad you voted against the WA today.
      Concerning tomorrow’s votes, ‘No Deal’ surely is the only realistic starting point for any negotiations with the EU (the current disparity in trade being in our favour).
      Have we got the guts, as a nation, to ‘go for it’? If the ugly attitude of many ‘un-representing’ us in the Commons is anything to go by – doubtful! But do remember the country as a whole voted ‘out’, and was promised by the PM that ‘No Deal’ was better than a bad deal, and that we would leave on 29th March. If properly led, this has the potential to re-unify the nation, rout the opposition, and could save a lot of money.
      To shamefacedly apply for an extension to Article 50, with the advent of European elections in view, would be incoherent – a ‘remainer’ wrecking tactic – with years of damaging political turmoil in its wake.
      That’s how I see it anyway.
      Yours sincerely

    4. Alan Jutson
      March 13, 2019


      For the last five weeks I have viewed from afar the farce of the so called clarification Mrs May wanted over the so called backstop, when it was perfectly clear all along what the EU were planning for us.

      Given that Mrs May is not going to whip the Conservative members to support a so called no deal, (which is really a deal on WTO Rules), we now know, and have proof she never ever did believe in the strap line “no deal is better than a bad deal”.

      We are now in a state of unreadiness due to her lack of vision, her incompetence, her lack of negotiation skills, and a Chancellor who refused to spend money on preparations, believing any deal is better than our independence.

      What a farce that MP’s are now going to vote on a no deal, because in reality there is no such thing as a no deal, because as a last resort we have to put in place something in order to continue trading, so why not do as 164 other Countries are doing (including the EU) and join in with them and trade on WTO terms where the rules and arbitration/dispute arrangements/schemes are already set.

      What a complete farce that Mp’s are even preparing to vote for or against nothing !

    5. Bob
      March 13, 2019

      If you can’t walk away without a deal, then it’s not a negotiation.
      MPs voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU and invoke Article 50 and that vote was not subject to a “deal”.

    6. L Jones
      March 13, 2019

      ”.. Leavers should be reminding the country…” And MPs should be reminding themselves of what the Referendum Results map looked like.

  3. Mark B
    March 13, 2019

    Good morning

    It marks a new low when a government is forced to bribe its own people to surrender its freedom with their own money. It is as if lying was never enough

    Lower corporation tax. The removal of employers NIC . Removal of VAT on domestic fuel. Keeping ones home warm is not a luxury in a country this far north of the equator. Less spending on everything, government does not provide much if what I want, and less embarrassing nonsense from the Chancellor. You’re not funny.

  4. Dame Rita Webb
    March 13, 2019

    “The deficit is lower than planned as his fiscal squeeze has been tougher .” Eh I seem to remember that Osborn said the deficit would be eliminated by 2015? How long are you going to be able to keep the plates spinning before investors stop buying gilts or demand a rate of interest that you cannot afford to pay without cutting away at the money for schools, NHS etc? Its of interest as to how much UK government debt the Bank of England has on its balance sheet too. In the meantime the Conservatives have the cheek to say Corbyn will turn the UK into Venezuela.

  5. Stephen Priest
    March 13, 2019

    Dear Sir John

    You must ask your fellow MPs if the really want to end democracy by voting against no deal.

    You must ask your fellow MPs if they really want the following slogan at the next election:

    “You vote is not important to us. We take our orders from unelected bureaucrats”

    1. Ignoramus
      March 13, 2019

      The BBC last night interviewed a cross section of people who overwhelmingly wanted a no deal WTO departure. “get on with it” and “we will quickly get over the drawbacks” were the gist of the comments. So say the majority of the country, but alas not their representatives in Westminster.

    2. Peter Parsons
      March 13, 2019

      Any MP who defends the current electoral system is already telling you that your vote is not important to them.

    3. L Jones
      March 13, 2019

      I have written to our MP to remind him what Mrs May said: ”No deal is better than a bad deal”. Since the WA was obviously considered a ”bad deal” by a majority, then the default is ”no deal”.
      It’s not rocket surgery (as we say).

      He has backed Mrs May at every turn. I said we consider him to be OUR servant if he takes wages from us and we don’t care abut HIS conscience, or our present overlords’ threats. Ours is a ‘leave’ voting constituency and we want to LEAVE.

  6. Lifelogic
    March 13, 2019

    I understand that we have about 100 times more people studying forensic science degrees than are actually needed as an example. For many art subjects the tax payer funds perhaps 1000 times more than we need. Let them fund themselves if they want to study. Or let them do OU type of degrees in the evenings while working.

    Or get businesses to fund training and education as their career develops.

    Governments taxing and spending is a very good way to ensure the money is largely wasted in the process and spent or invested far less efficiently than it would have been. At least half is wasted or spent on nonsense perhaps as much as 75% of it.

    1. NigelE
      March 13, 2019

      It’s interesting how designer degrees have flourished as the Universities have made their pitches for our (grown up) children’s student loans. Back in the day, a friend of mine went into forensic science and was very successful in his career. However, his base and second degrees were in chemistry. I guess a forensic science degree has resulted from the popularity of certain television programmes.

  7. Dominic
    March 13, 2019

    How can it be possibly right that taxpayers are being forced to finance, through the taxes they pay, the political plans of politicians?

    Hammond exclaims he’ll spend more of my tax payments if Tory politicians vote for the seditious WA. That is scandalous. In effect, this charlatan is demanding that I finance the humiliation of my homeland. Why would I agree to such an idiotic demand?

    Is that now the role of the taxpayer? That the taxpayer is now simply to finance the political games of government? It’s bordering on abuse

    We need a Thatcherite government that understands that the State’s role is not to serve its own interests but the interests of those who finance it

    I look forward to the day when I can open my newspaper and never again see the names Theresa May and Philip Hammond. Pray let this be soon

    1. javelin
      March 13, 2019

      Spot on. Remind the Chancellor that the majority of people who pay tax want to leave the EU b

    2. Fed up with the bull
      March 13, 2019

      I second that Dominic

    3. John Hatfield
      March 13, 2019

      Once we break free, the total cost of all the tariffs we would face from the EU is £5 billion. We currently pay £10 billion or more into the EU coffers — so we’re paying £10 billion to save £5 billion.

  8. oldtimer
    March 13, 2019

    If he actually believed in Brexit, more options would be open to him. Perhaps someone will be bold enough to table a motion which amends the government motion, which rules out a no deal Brexit, to actually advocate it using Article 24 and the 9 months on offer to negotiate terms with the EU free of the constraints of May’s now twice defeated WA and PD. Carpe Diem!

    1. Andy
      March 13, 2019

      If Hammond believed in unicorns perhaps he could tax horns? And, no doubt, he could raise a small fortune by taxing leprechauns on their pots of gold which they keep stashed in their end of the rainbow tax havens.

      But the Chancellor – despite being a Tory – is a rational man who bases his work on facts and not on fantasies. Believing in something – when virtually all of the evidence suggests you are wrong – is a lousy way to run anything. Let alone the economy of our country. Brexiteers have yet to figure this out.

  9. Lifelogic
    March 13, 2019

    Perhaps the aviation authorities were right to ground the Max 8 aircraft until the black boxes are fully examined but why on earth are they so inept as to increase the dangers, inconveniences and risks for passengers by turning the flights back that were already pin mid air? What sort of complete dopes in government made this idiotic decision?

    1. javelin
      March 13, 2019

      I noticed that. The route back to Turkey was longer than continuing to London.

      I assume it was the aircraft’s home.

      If it was the EU telling the plane to get out it’s airspace the EU put all those passengers lives at risk.

    2. William
      March 13, 2019

      I hasn’t heard that. That is classic government stupidity.

      1. William
        March 13, 2019


    3. Bob
      March 13, 2019

      Maybe the kind of dopes that would throw way their trump card in an important negotiation?

      1. Lifelogic
        March 13, 2019


    4. bigneil
      March 13, 2019

      LL – Why would they turn back flights already on their way? In this day and age which has become a “Get a lawyer and sue for millions” society on every little thing – if one of those planes crashed after being given the OK to proceed, despite warnings, then the victims relatives would be out for financial blood. More so than normal as they could claim that the plane had been warned about.

    5. John Hatfield
      March 13, 2019

      Perhaps they would prefer that aircraft be grounded at their home airport, where their hangars and maintenance staff are. That would be sensible.

    6. Mark
      March 14, 2019

      Not enough parking slots at the UK airport? The aircraft could be there for months.

  10. formula57
    March 13, 2019

    You have previously made clear the budget we could have had but for the dead hand of Chancellor Hammond and your remarks today show afresh what is possible and desirable. So given what is likely to be delivered this Chancellor, we are left to ponder why it suits the Conservative Party to oblige us to tolerate this poor government.

  11. Nicholas Murphy
    March 13, 2019

    Stamp Duty decisions need to be about more than just the tax take, Sir John.

    1. Lifelogic
      March 13, 2019

      Indeed they need to be about the wider economy, SDLT tax should be removed completely. Turnover taxes are very damaging indeed – at up to 15% on houses they are totally insane. A tax on job mobility and people who have to move home. A deterrent to buying a home unless you are sure it will be for a long time perhaps 7- 10 years minimum. A deterrent to taking a new better paid job if you have to move too. Also a cost that deters new builds so restrict supply of homes for people.

    2. BR
      March 13, 2019

      Assertions and £1 will get you a ride on the bus.

    3. BCL
      March 13, 2019

      Indeed they do. They must reflect policy on the property market. One can only assume the policy is to bring the property market to a halt. No doubt that is why out host wants the rates reduced so as to stimulate that market.

  12. Yorkie Ear
    March 13, 2019

    If Mr Hammond mentions Uncertainty, many British will fall into a deep slumber. One can get mesmerised by repetition and he should have a Health Warning on his upper lip.

    He looked more sorrowful in The House yesterday than any have seen him look before which brought good cheer to most.

    That’s it for him

    Antics in Parliament and those proposed are bizarre.Are there any parallels in the civilised world where Lawmakers undermine a trade negotiation position by visiting a foreign nation and returning with a directive to instigate taking No Deal off the table? Blatantly announce it as if a triumph to a people who have voted against their intentions? It cannot be so.A joke !!!!!!

    1. Everhopeful
      March 13, 2019

      Yorkie Ear
      Agree 100%.
      Don’t think that govt has managed to keep up the façade of civilisation. No punches thrown yet but how they have let themselves down! And us …
      As for “ uncertainty” …hasn’t that been the constant companion of every ordinary family in the land since…well….ever really?
      Will your job move/finish/change…will they build on that field…compulsorily purchase your house for the new road…shove a new runway/airport on the green belt.
      And on and on and on.
      You’s think the govt and their precious big business would relish a little uncertainty.
      Sauce for the goose etc….

      1. Everhopeful
        March 13, 2019

        *You’d think

    2. bigneil
      March 13, 2019

      ” One can get mesmerised by repetition ” – same as years of “we are going to get immigration down” ? Now they just row themselves here at free will ( which goes along with free housing, free benefits, free schooling, free healthcare, free Police, free Fire service etc etc).

  13. ukretired123
    March 13, 2019

    Today’s No Deal Vote is the most important and pivotal for the UK ‘s future as we will be either taking the Keys to our Freedom back for the first time in 46 years or giving them back to our competitors where kindness is regarded as weakness as demonstrated so well recently.

    The best decisions are the hardest to make.
    Today is the first time we can tell the EU we are serious on leaving. It is our ultimate Ace Card, like a precious diamond un -priceable worth a Kings Ransom. So for anyone to give it away would be treasonable.
    Corbin knows this just as his Union bosses do when they walk away from the table even temporarily and Corbin is just trying to get the upper hand and credit for Brexit when the hypocrite hates the EU but pretends otherwise.
    So when faced with seemingly impossible choices the one with the best Real Outcome is our Freedom as voted for by the people who MPs are supposed to serve and honor : No Deal.
    Time for MPs to Walk the Talk.
    13th March should be unlucky for EU and not you nor us.
    You will suddenly see Brussels visiting London having to play away for a change…

  14. javelin
    March 13, 2019

    The ERM debacle is an order of magnitude less than Brexit.

    The voters retribution will be an order of magnitude greater than that of the ERM.

    No one will campaign for the Conservatives.

    No one will vote for the Conservatives.

    No one will shed a tear for the Conservatives.

    MPs may feel they have won a victory by staying in the EU.

    It will be short lived.

    Their lives as MPs will be shorter still.

  15. agricola
    March 13, 2019

    The Spring Statement is a side show. The real question is the future of our government and T May specifically. They have both exceeded their sell by date and some.

    I have yet to see that anything can be done with the composition of the governing party. You cannot herd cats, and this is the biggest feline collection of self centred, arrogant incompetents we have had for a long time. They understand nothing, not least that they are defying the will of the people.

    The answer is a General Election following a cull by local party chairmen of remain advocating MPs.

    The only caveat I have is that a vote on no deal is a vote on a motion and therefore not legally binding.The Parliamentary vote to leave on 29th March is legally binding. We leave on 29th. Be very reistant to any slight of hand action by the government to change the rules. They are not to be trusted.

    For sure T May must go with her duplicitous Cabinet.They are not fit to lead the UK into a brave new World. They lack vision, compass, and integrity. Do it fast or you will have a Brexit Party on your tails and a Marxist in No 10.6

  16. Richard1
    March 13, 2019

    I’ve got an idea to make some progress on Brexit & also get more dynamic and imaginative leadership on economic policy: get rid of Mrs May. MPs and ministers should queue up outside her office and urge her to resign. She is hopeless and has lost all credibility. We see it in the swagger of the EU’s reaction to the likelihood of Parliament voting to beg for an extension.

  17. Roy Grainger
    March 13, 2019

    Curious that amongst the various motions being voted on today one to revoke A50 immediately isn’t amongst them – I mean that’s what a majority of the HoC want so let’s see which of them vote for it – then as the electorate at the next election we can make our own arrangements accordingly.

  18. Duyfken
    March 13, 2019

    I have this moment received my Council Tax Demand Notice for the coming year. It seems that with the impasse concerning Brexit and the lack of clarity over the economic situation, it may be prudent to delay my instalments of payment. What would be the outcome if we all followed that course?

  19. BR
    March 13, 2019

    In general I agree re tax cuts, but it was never clear to me where that EU money was coming from in the first place.

    Have Hammond/May ever been asked that in parliament?

  20. BCL
    March 13, 2019

    I cannot help but observe that our economy is generally doing reasonably well in comparison with the EU economies particularly and global economic results more generally. No doubt that is “in spite of Brexit”. Yet we still have the likes of the treacherous Dominic Grieve telling us that no deal will be a catastrophe. Much as past performance may not be a guide to future performance, I think I’d rather take the advice of Sir John than Mr Grieve about what the future holds in a no deal scenario. One has been largely correct and the other wholly wrong. I hope we will leave on the 29th March with a so called no deal. Failing that let’s leave with no deal on the 22nd May having had a bit more time to prepare.

  21. javelin
    March 13, 2019

    A Brexiteer should put an amendment in making it clear MPs are betraying the referendum results and will understand if they lose their seat because of it.

  22. Nigl
    March 13, 2019

    I agree totally. Regrettably I am expecting another over cautious ‘punishment’ extension of Project Fear. I wonder why?

  23. Everhopeful
    March 13, 2019

    I do wish they would abolish Stamp Duty or at least make it affordable again.
    Actually it beggars belief that we hand over vast amounts of our money so that lot in the HoC can do as they please with it!
    And I know the lefty/liberal bleat of “ You wouldn’t say that if you were out of work/ill/toothache” etc.
    Well the provision now is nothing like the promises made years ago…yet still we are being bled dry and driving over potholes.

  24. JoolsB
    March 13, 2019

    Good ideas John but we need a Conservative Chancellor and PM to deliver on them instead of the two Liberal leftie tax and spend socialists running the show now. As for saving £39 billion if we go out on WTO, it seems this useless pair are determined to give our money to the EU no matter what.

  25. Caterpillar
    March 13, 2019

    Off-topic. Tariffs? The newspapers are not clear on automotive parts, they are reporting no tariffs on parts from EU, presumably this will be no tariffs on all parts from anywhere?

    Also, whilst we have poverty in the country, tariffs should be reduced on meat and dairy. This needs further consideration in the future…if we ever leave

  26. DaveM
    March 13, 2019

    From where I’m sitting, it appears as if a small bunch of EU-loving lawyers are reaching the end game in their quest to undermine the biggest democratic vote in British history. Ably abetted by a number of sympathetic MPs and foreign bureaucrats. May’s refusal to whip your party for today’s vote was her final treacherous masterstroke.

    I’m sickened and saddened by the behaviour and state of British politics.

  27. Christine
    March 13, 2019

    Hammond’s ‘bribe’ was an absolute disgrace. He hit a new low touting our taxed income to achieve acceptance of the WA. Has this man no respect for the electorate?

    Slightly off topic, the country is mightily relieved that the WA was voted down yesterday. Now can we please have No Deal? So many MPs have completely lost touch with their constituents and the big worry now is that it will be voted down. Everyone I know without exception wants No Deal now and I have emailed the PM to that effect. We are unconcerned about any temporary economic turbulence. A very small price to pay for freedom from a despotic, corrupt institution.

  28. Ian Kaye
    March 13, 2019

    Dear Sir John.
    The lower than expected deficit since Mr.Hammond became Chancellor almost exactly matches the 1.5% smaller GDP since the Referendum per Mr. Carney.I therefore conclude that the multiplier is 1.

  29. Oliver
    March 13, 2019

    The Malthouse “B” amendment sounds supportable to me.

    The problem with it would be that it enables the EU to tie us into the original, twice humiliatingly rejected, “deal”, with an assured unilateral NI exit route – but the EU intransigent position and overwhening pride may hopefully prevent that.

    Which would leave us exactly where we should have been, before we triggered A50 – “This is how we’ll transition out – while negotiating a future trading relationship”.

    Are you, Sir John, supporting it?

  30. HJ
    March 13, 2019

    “He should remove VAT from green products and from domestic fuel…”

    No – domestic fuel should attract the same rate of VAT as other products and services. Removing VAT would reduce the incentive to save energy and the biggest savings would be for those with the biggest fuel bills, i.e. generally those with bigger houses.
    Remember that every time a tax relief is given, other taxes have to be higher as a result.

  31. Martin
    March 13, 2019

    Hammond needs to shake up the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy [Greg Clark, Claire Perry] and get them to lift the ceiling on seismic fracking events from an absurdly low 0.5 to a more realistic 1.8. Ineos has declared the current fracking rules unworkable. By fracking in the UK we would reduce our reliance on imports from Russia, Qatar, Norway and others and gain on balance of payments and on energy security. It may be that there are environmentalists in the department preventing the raising of the limit.

    October 2018:

    January 2019: Claire Perry, his deputy, the energy minister, contradicts her earlier statement here:

    Meanwhile Clark and Perry run a government department that has allowed 7 billion euros a year to be taken from industry and the populace to subsidise wind farm developments and other renewable schemes. This results in much higher energy costs for industry, making it uncompetitive internationally. [The EU incorrectly gave the figure at 1.57 euros]

  32. agricola
    March 13, 2019

    Big question. Does membership of EFTA amount to a trade agreement with the EU. Were we to engage in it would we be free to set up our own trade deals worldwide, would we be free to implement our own immigration policy, would we be totally free of the ECJ, would we be free to conduct our own tax policy and set our own laws.

    If it is really only a means of trading tariff free with the EU then it might have legs. If we are still subject to the EU bacteria then it is an absolute no no. It was being sold by George Freeman and Kinnock Jnr as a way forward. I do not expect two europhiles to tell the whole truth so what is the reallity of joining EFTA.

    1. agricola
      March 13, 2019

      I have done a bit of my own research.

      1. EFTA have their own court but it’s decisions are not mandatory on members. Nations sovereignty takes precedence. They also follow English Law practises.

      2. Freedom of movement is under review in EFTA. Perhaps we could negotiate to stay out of it.

      3. EFTA has many of it’s own trade agreements and we would be free to negotiate our own around the World.

      4. We would revert to being a sovereign nation again.

      The people of Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway would have to approve our membership. I suggest we look into it carefully.

  33. Lynn Atkinson
    March 13, 2019

    This is what I want from the Chancellor. I am caught in many of these traps which stop me running my affairs in a way that would be most beneficial – to myself, those with whom I do business and the country. But I expect nothing from vindictive Hammond.
    Shortly we shall have to learn to do without him!
    I agree that MPs will reject a 2nd referendum – they can reverse Articl 50 in a day but will not thwart us o obviously – so they have no reason to beg for an extension.
    The E.U. may just boot us out hoping that will do us most damage. It will be more humiliation – but the May establishment is used to that. So long as we are out of the E.U. I will accept their jackboot too – just the once!

  34. Bryan Harris
    March 13, 2019

    If there is money to spare, then I would suggest the following as being most worthwhile targets:
    – raise tax thresholds substantially;
    – reduce burden for student loans;
    – cut business rates.

    As a remainer though, this chancellor will be looking to punish us, rather than reward us – so I’m expecting higher taxes and some new ones.

  35. Excalibur
    March 13, 2019

    We are at the final hurdle, JR. On the basis that ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’ MP’s should vote today to leave the EU on 29th March without an agreement.

    After her humiliation yesterday, Theresa May should stand aside from any further involvement. That she persists in trying to sway events even after the rebuff she has received, beggars belief. Her obstinate determination to get an outcome that suits only her reveals a personality flaw.

    Can you amass the votes we need to set ourselves free JR ?

    1. Mark
      March 13, 2019

      We need just one EU Council member to veto our continued presence in the EU.

    2. Caterpillar
      March 13, 2019

      PM TM has confirmed that she will vote to block no deal. This is confirmation of how disgraceful the PM, Govt, HoC and the political class are. That she remains in place and works against the democratic referendum, against the legislation to leave this month, more than beggars belief. The Conservative party have not removed her, the HoC has not removed her. When the EU and Remainers write the history books she will be celebrated, her personality disorder will be ignored.

    3. Andy
      March 13, 2019

      We are free. And ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ is as untrue now as it was when it was first made up.

      May’s deal is Brexit. It is a rubbish deal and all of you are to blame for it.

      1. Edward2
        March 14, 2019

        It is not a deal it is just the outline of an agreement which has been very badly negotiated by pro EU remainers.
        People like you andy.

  36. Iain Gill
    March 13, 2019

    Re government announcement about what happens if there is no deal:

    So tariffs apply to car imports, unless they come via Southern Ireland…

    So I can see some enterprising business importing large numbers of cars into Eire, then putting them on transporters across the Irish border, then ship to England.

    Really is this the kind of quality Brexit plans the government has after over 2 years looking at this?



  37. L Jones
    March 13, 2019

    So many ”shoulds”, though. ”Wills” would be more welcome.

  38. Peter Parsons
    March 13, 2019

    VAT on domestic fuel was introduced by a Conservative government which had John Redwood as a minister.

    1. Mark
      March 14, 2019

      I think it was an EU directive that VAT be applied.

  39. Denis Cooper
    March 13, 2019

    The BBC presenter was getting a little bit frustrated this morning when interviewing James Cleverly about the “emergency measures” which would be taken to keep the Irish land border open in the event of “no deal”.

    Why has it suddenly become possible for the UK to just unilaterally leave its side of the border unchanged with no additional checks on incoming goods, why has this not been suggested before, have all the endless arguments about it over the past two years been bogus, was there ever any need to get tied up in the ‘backstop’?

    Well, of course it has been suggested before, on this blog for a start, repeatedly, ad bloody nauseam, back to November 2017 when it became clear from a Sky News report:

    that the new Irish government was adopting an absurd extreme and intransigent position over the border; and moreover in letters to Theresa May’s local newspaper, copied to her and duly acknowledged by her assistant with warm words that she would be taking my ideas on board.

    From October 4th 2018:

    “The editor of the Maidenhead Advertiser has now been kind enough to publish my latest offering; a week late, but no matter, it is still relevant.

    “Prime Minister Theresa May insists that nobody has offered an alternative to her Chequers plan, and so EU negotiations are now at an impasse.

    Yet as a good constituency MP surely she will keep an eye on her local newspaper, in the Viewpoint pages of which an alternative solution has been suggested in a long succession of letters?

    Starting on February 22 with “Easy solution to EU border conundrum” – which is still available on the Advertiser website.

    Then running through successive letters to “The solution to the Irish border question” on July 5 – which was copied directly to her, and gratefully acknowledged by her assistant with an assurance that she had taken on board the thoughts it contained.

    The July 5 letter even offered a draft of a letter to be sent to the Irish Prime Minister, starting:

    “Dear Leo

    Just to confirm that we do not intend to make any changes at all at the border … “

    and offering to pass strong laws to prevent hauliers taking unwanted goods into the Republic.

    It is not too late to make use of that draft, and avert a complete collapse of withdrawal negotiations.”

    But of course that is not what she wants to do; her primary loyalty is still to the EU, and she welcomes a pretext to keep us under its thumb as far as possible.”

    I could not politely express the depths of my anger and my disgust with her.

  40. steadyeddie
    March 13, 2019

    Now what 39B is off the table he should be well stuffed with cash to offer us all a leaving bonus, say 39B divided by 65M = whatever!, for however it lasts!

  41. Den
    March 13, 2019

    Strategic Tax Cuts should coincide with our leaving the EU to counter the immediate negative effects of leaving the single market as it’ll take a little time for the newly independent British Engine to warm up
    As for his remark that if we vote for Mrs May’s ‘surrender document’ he will spend more! Well that is blatant political blackmail. It is disgusting. What is the matter with the man that he would prefer this country to be ruled by Brussels rather than be governed by those the British people elect to do the job?
    This is most unbecoming of a British Chancellor and it should serve as a warning to us all that he like others in the Cabinet is For Brussels but Against the British people. And he is supposed to be a Conservative MP?
    The Remainers in Cabinet are certainly not fit for the purpose of Britain’s decision to Leave the EU which is why it has become so problematic. Let democracy run this country not self-interests.

  42. Ian
    March 13, 2019

    Well good news, the Agriculture Minister has quit, saying he was fed up with the so call management of Brexit, well he is now sounding like a real Brexiteer, if the others would do the same, and vote to Get Out Now, we voted to Leave, means Leave.
    A Deal is not called for, but if it is a must have, most would just welcome the Canada ++

    Just for Gods sake do it

    WTO is just waiting, pick it up and go Out

    Forget Party Politics, carry out your Manifesto, Give us Democricy

  43. ian
    March 13, 2019

    EU deal will put before the commons again.

  44. Arnie from Newington
    March 13, 2019

    Hard to imagine any Tax more damaging to the UK than the tenant tax S24. I would certainly reverse this before Stamp duty and CGT.

  45. Denis Cooper
    March 13, 2019

    I happened to see Brandon Lewis telling MPs that there are now over fourteen and a half thousand civil servants working on various aspects of Brexit.

    But apparently there are none available to man any rapid rebuttal unit to instantly quash rubbish such as this from the CBI:

    “No-deal tariff regime would be ‘sledgehammer’ to UK economy, CBI warns”

    Why not?

    Simply because the minister who is in charge of the civil service, Theresa May, does not want to see any rebuttals, rapid or otherwise, of the many unfounded, even nonsensical, anti-Brexit propaganda stories that she and her Remoaner colleagues in government have been instrumental in originating and circulatin; and nor does she want to see any civil servants punished for leaking “confidential” anti-Brexit information.

    Let us remind ourselves that this vile specimen was the best person that the Tory party could come up with to lead us out of the EU.

  46. Jiminyjim
    March 13, 2019

    Has any economist yet tried to estimate to what extent the ‘stockpiling’ for Brexit might have boosted the economy? This will all have to come out of the figures as eventually those stockpiling start to realise what a waste of time that was!

  47. DaveK
    March 13, 2019

    Listening to the Chancellors speech it appears that everything that is negative is due to Brexit uncertainty, however he is a financial genius for getting a pot of money to protect us against a No Deal. LL will be interested to hear that explanation 😉

  48. Ian Pennell
    March 13, 2019

    Dear Sir John Redwood,

    There’s so much political opportunity for the Conservatives to wipe out the Left for a generation- if only we had a strong pro Brexit and pro- growth Conservative Prime Minister and Chancellor.

    The National Debt is almost £2 trillion but about 35% of this is from the Bank of England buying Government bonds through Quantitative Easing. Japan has a National Debt over 200% of GDP but international Credit Ratings Agencies still give Japan an A+ rating because Japan’s Government Debt is with the Japanese population. There is the £39 billion “EU Divorce Bill” plus current annual contributions which Britain does not have to make if we just left the EU without a deal. There is also scope to slash Foreign Aid and abolish HS2 saving £100 billion over the next few years.

    The Bank of England could buy up gold from UK based Bullion Companies in the UK- using newly printed money to do this. This would keep £ Sterling strong, boost the economy and also Government coffers. The Government could issue bonds to the Public and to UK investors to pay off Foreign debt and fund big tax- cuts to boost the economy in Britain. The money saved from slashing Foreign Aid, ending EU payments and axing HS2 could provide vital boosts to Public Services like the NHS and Police- and help put much needed investment into infrastructure and housing.

    Instead we have a weak Prime Minister and a pro- EU Chancellor of the Exchequer who cannot see beyond his spreadsheets. There’s no vision and there’s just managed decline. Theresa May must be deposed quickly so that a strong pro- Brexit Conservative Government that believes in Britain and that has a popular Conservative vision can replace the weaklings and incompetents currently running the country.

    Perhaps you Sir, and your colleagues could facilitate this happening by directly confronting Theresa May to tell her- in no uncertain terms- that her time is up!

    Ian Pennell

  49. agricola
    March 13, 2019

    Sat there in the HoC you look very bored listening to all the collective voices. I know I am.

    The PMs deal is a dead parrot. There are reasons for it’s death. There are aspects of it that the conservative party in the HoC do not want. Remove those aspects that are distasteful, then send it back to the EU with the message that this is what we can live with. They then know what we want and can then decide whether they can like it too. Simples.

    1. agricola
      March 13, 2019

      Very refreshing positive contribution as 18.00 approached.

  50. NigelE
    March 13, 2019

    Sir John, you use the phrase “where asking for bids for more money to improve services would be a good idea”. It may only be terminology but this seems a back-to-front approach to me. To my mind it would be better to identify the current problems in areas such as social care etc., then costed programme(s) of work to alleviate the problems, then prioritise which options to pursue depending on overall budget. Allocating money first is usually wasteful.

    On the topic of social care, the issue of privately funded care home residents subsidising council-funded residents is surely an iniquity that a true Conservative government would address as a priority.

  51. Andy
    March 13, 2019

    I have a question for Brexiteers.

    Today the government has published its no deal Brexit tariff schedule – as Mr Redwood has demanded for a while.

    The UK will unilaterally axe almost 90% of tariffs on imports into Great Britain – and all of them into Northern Ireland to start with.

    These tariffs go for every country.

    So what is the point of other countries signing trade deals with us? If you are China and 90% of your products have tariff free access to the UK, while UK products do not enjoy the same access to China, what benefit is there for you to do a deal with the UK?

    Why would China sign a deal with you Mr Redwood when they have next to nothing to gain and lots to lose?

    1. Richard1
      March 14, 2019

      Plenty of countries which have zero tariffs also sign trade deals, which cover more than just tariff free trade on goods. A number of TPP members for example.

    2. Edward2
      March 14, 2019

      You are obsessed with trade deals Andy.
      Only recently have countries like Japan , for example, had formal trade deals signed with the EU
      Noticed any lack of Japanese products for sale in Europe or in the UK in your lifetime?

      If China placed high tariffs on UK imports despite the UK offering zero tariffs then we would make our tariffs the same as China.
      But I am optimistic that both nations have goodwill and want free and fair trade.
      Looking around the modern world this is generally what happens.

    3. Mark
      March 14, 2019

      There are tariffed goods which are open to trade deals to reduce the tariffs. Cars for instance. We could buy from the overseas plants that make many of our current imported vehicles under new trade deals.

  52. Whaddyasay
    March 13, 2019

    So at this time only a half hour to go before the next vote ie. to take ‘leaving with no deal off the table’. Today government through HMRC with one stroke has moved the Irish border to the Irish it looks like and President Tusk is already preparing to hand out the keys of Hotel California to the next batch of UK MEPs following the elections in May. The more things change the more they remain the same..otherwise sameold sameold..whaddya say JR? EU taking back control?

  53. javelin
    March 13, 2019

    Just watched the No deal Brexit debate.

    What a huge shower.

    Little structure. Almost no facts.

    A three hour rant lead driven by hormones.

    Never tell me MPs are superior in debating or decision making skills.

  54. Denis Cooper
    March 13, 2019

    So now MPs have actually done it, they have voted for the EU to become a prison.

  55. ian
    March 13, 2019

    Merkel deal keeps coming back like a boomerang and will continue to do so.

  56. Freeborn John
    March 13, 2019

    Never accept May’s deal. We will beat the Remainers in the end.

  57. Steve
    March 13, 2019

    What an entertaining evening !

    My lodger and I watched it all while devouring cod & chips.

    It just goes to show how parliament assumes a right to do as it pleases against the will of the people. Very dangerous indeed.

  58. Mark
    March 13, 2019

    Height of stupidity greenstanding announcement about banning “fossil fuel” heating in new homes. Hammond should remember that Huhne’s attempt to push for zero carbon for newbuilds by 2016 had to be quietly dropped, as it was going to add substantial costs and require designs that no-one would want to live in. Given that the government is way behind on sorting out its energy policy, it will end up being forced to add substantial capacity of gas fired generation, which is a far less energy efficient way of using gas to heat homes.

    Meanwhile, with commodity gas prices haven fallen sharply, we are seeing rising electricity prices to pay for the wind farms coming on stream at £155.53/MWh like Hornsea. What a complete mess. The sooner we can have a sensible energy policy the better.

    1. Mark
      March 14, 2019


      what was Hammond, the Chancellor, announcing policy that is the responsibility of Perry, the energy minister? Still I suppose Gove was allowed to announce the closure of a large part of our manufacturing industry. More signs of the breakdown of government. BEIS seems to be a department with no power and no sense.

  59. Iain Gill
    March 13, 2019

    May must go

  60. S Sykes
    March 13, 2019

    John – profound good sense from you on economic matters as always. It is a shame bordering on a tragedy that the inner circles of Government don’t appear to be receptive to the sound and practical policies you articulate so well.
    Given current crushing policy failures from HMG it seems to me that we need a new team at the top which puts the economy first and foremost by cutting taxes and regulation and promoting lean government.
    Business minded politicians – and there are precious few of them – need to take control to get us back on track, but what is the chance of this happening?

  61. Jan Heard
    March 13, 2019

    So, to top it all off tonight, Ken Clarke has to go and insult the WI. Who do these people think will walk the streets, canvas, leaflet and generally campaign on their behalf when election time comes around again?

  62. Steve
    March 13, 2019

    Hardly a word from ERG..not a peep from the DUP..looks like you’re all bunched now

  63. cornishstu
    March 13, 2019

    Well I see that the majority of conservative MP’s voted against the withdrawal of leaving under WTO terms but call me cynical, I think Labour stance is a little bit to convenient for the establishment.

  64. John Miller
    March 13, 2019

    Oh my gooodness, what a surprise, Remain it is. I wonder how much this debacle will cost us?

    Thank God it’s the end of Labour and Tory and, given the disgusting revelations of Dirty Dave, most old style politicians and the LibDems as well.

    All Nigel has to do is gather a few half sensible ordinary people around him and buy a new suit for his interview with the Queen.

    Mind you, in the same way the BBC has decided that the public shall still financially support Ed Balls, despite ousting him from public office Nigel’s new cohorts best expect a savaging from the meejya.

  65. rick hamilton
    March 14, 2019

    The more I watch these parliamentary debates the more I am convinced that politics is essentially theatre and most of the actors believe that a form of words solves everything. Logical thinking, facts, even law, matter less than their opinions. Hence the meaningless vote on No Deal.

    The only way to get a proper resolution of this mess is to call a general election within a short extension of the Brexit date. Cons need a new leader – and cabinet – which must be majority Brexit. Labour also need a new leader who lives in the real world. They say they want alignment with the single market and a customs union so why not be honest (Hah !) and campaign for Remain after all?

    I hate to think what the outcome might be – socialism and EU membership perhaps – but it would make both parties face up to the electorate again, with accountability. With the new Brexit party in the mix it might bring a complete realignment of politics.

    Maybe I can say this, tongue in cheek, because I spend half my time abroad !

  66. Principled
    March 14, 2019

    Merlin, sadly as you should well know May’s deal is not BREXIT in any shape or form. The devil is in the detail. Her proposed deal is obscuration at it’s worst!

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