Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Budget day..

George Osborne will present his first true-blue Conservative Budget today, unrestrained by his former Lib Dem coalition partners, and so he can afford to set out a bold Osbornite vision for Britain. So what are we in for?

The Chancellor's plan to raise the 40p threshold, giving a tax cut to middle class families, leads our front page. The Mail leads on this too, but highlights the "sting in the tail on child tax credits", which are set to be limited to the first two children in any family. "Gordon Brown's tax credits monster must be slain," says Frank Field, Labour chair of the Work and Pensions select committee. It's all part of Osborne's vision for a "lower welfare, lower tax" Britain, as the FT puts it, although he is making his planned £12 billion in welfare cuts more slowly, dragging them out into the second half of this parliament. Freed from Lib Dem influence, Osborne is also set to announce the scrapping of student maintenance grants (which the Independent leads on), and curbs to green levies (as the Sun reports). Make sure to follow what happens on our liveblog.

The Chancellor is just over halfway through his plan to eliminate the deficit, so still has more to do. "Some people close [to him] reckon this will be his most consequential budget," writes James Kirkup. "It certainly should be: he comes to the Commons today with political capital to burn, an opposition in disarray and a five-year Parliament stretching out before him. If he is going to make the move next door one day, today's the day we get our first real glimpse of Prime Minister George Osborne."


The European Union faces "the most critical" moment in its 64-year history, after leaders warned they had five days to prevent Greece from careering out of the euro and into a full blown humanitarian crisis, Mehreen Khan and Matthew Holehouse report. Creditors were openly exasperated after new finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos arrived empty-handed in Brussels following Greece's momentous No vote against their lenders' bail-out conditions. "The two sides are talking past each other, clinging to long-entrenched narratives, no longer willing to question their own assumptions. The result could be costly," writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.

Brussels has now convened a full emergency summit of all 28 European leaders on Sunday to thrash out an deal to keep Greece in the single currency. "Despite such determination, it does seem that sooner or later their ambition of ever-closer union will be wrecked on the rocks of financial reality," we say. What does this mean for Britain's political parties? "If the Greek revolt proves contagious, then Labour is the certain loser," argues Mary Riddell


Tory MPs have warned the government that it is pushing through plans for English votes for English laws too quickly raising concerns that the government could face a rebellion, Steven Swinford reports. Senior back-benchers said that the future of the Union is "hanging by a thread" as they called for more time for debate ahead of a vote  later this month. It came as Labour and the SNP joined forces to secure a symbolic victory over the government by winning an emergency vote which it tabled. The government opted to abstain.

"The SNP certainly sound outraged with the Government about EVEL," writes our sketchwriter Michael Deacon. "The trouble is, they've sounded identically outraged with the Government about pretty much everything else, too – and the sheer relentlessness of their outrage is starting to make it hard to tell how authentic that outrage is. Is it always real, or sometimes merely for show – or even just force of habit?"


Immigration is helping to bring Britain back to its Christian roots and reviving religion in a "weary, western" culture, the country's most senior Roman Catholic cleric has insisted, John Bingham reports. Cardinal Vincent Nichols said an influx of new arrivals was not simply boosting flagging congregations but encouraging the British-born population to rediscover its own "wellsprings of faith".


James Naughtie is leaving BBC Radio 4's Today programme in January after 21 years, the corporation has announced. "It is quite big news when we hear that someone is leaving. We had a nice meeting after the programme. The debrief is usually 10 minutes, but this morning we learned that Jim was leaving. There were a few tears shed, I can tell you," his former co-presenter John Humphrys told the Telegraph.

"Fans of his Aberdeenshire tones can be reassured that he will not depart today. Or indeed tomorrow," we say. "In fact Today can count on his political expertise until next year, by which time he will have completed more than two decades in the job. It is time well spent."


Newly-elected Conservative MP Johnny Mercer has appeared half-naked in a Dove advert in which he lathers himself in a bathroom, Michael Wilkinson reports. The 38-year-old was able to pull off the role in the American TV advert after building an impressive physique during his distinguished career as a commando captain.


Ask any number of people 'where is the north?' and you will almost certainly get a different answer every time. Anywhere north of Watford? Only when you get to Crewe? James Wharton, the new minister in charge of George Osborne's much-heralded 'northern powerhouse' project, may therefore be forgiven in his admission that he doesn't exactly know where the north is. Read what happened here


Commons Speaker John Bercow told an MP who asked a long-winded question not "to argue the toss with the Chair". When Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland complained, he shouted: "Don't shake your head mate." You can watch their exchange here.


Dozens of former MPs, including Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, ex-ministers under investigation for lobbying allegations, have been granted privileged access to Parliament since the general election. Some 381 former members are in possession of passes that allow them to roam the Westminster estate and use the subsidised facilities. Here are more details


Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has been accused of highlighting the fact her Labour leadership rival Liz Kendall does not have any children to win votes as the contest descended into acrimony. This comes after shadow media minister Helen Goodman wrote in a blog for the Huffington Post UK that the fact Cooper was a "working mum" had convinced her to back the shadow home secretary's leadership campaign. 


Lord Patten, the former chairman of the BBC Trust, has accused the Culture Secretary of being an "adolescent ideologue" after he announced "awful" plans to make the corporation pay for pensioners' free TV licences, Steven Swinford reports. John Whittingdale said on Monday that the corporation will bear the £650million cost of the free licence fee for those over the age of 75 from 2020. This comes as the corporation's director general Lord Hall did not deny that the corporation has now become "a branch" of the welfare state. Here are more details


@MikeySmith: If the BBC rebranded economic coverage as "George Osborne's Budgie" and "George Osborne's Awesome Statement", loads more people would watch


From The Telegraph

James Kirkup - Introducing Prime Minister George Osborne

Steve Hilton - The Living Wage is a Conservative idea. Now let's make it happen

Mary Riddell - If Greece's revolt spreads across Europe, Labour will be the loser

From the Politics blog

Asa Bennett - How many more cuts does George Osborne have to make?

Frank Field - Gordon Brown's tax credits monster must be slain

Mark Littlewood- Cutting £12bn in welfare should only be the start, Chancellor

From elsewhere

Rafael Behr - Marmite nation: is the idea of Britishness broken beyond repair?

Daniel Finklestein - Thatcher shows why we must keep on cutting

Christopher Bland - George Osborne should earn his reputation for courage by abolishing free TV licences for the over 75s


09:30 European Council President Donald Tusk to give a speech on Greece to the European Parliament
10.30 Peers quiz Oliver Letwin and Supreme Court President on constitutional reform
12.00 David Cameron at PMQs
12.30 George Osborne's Summer Budget
18:30 24-hour tube strike to begin in London 
19.00 City of London Corporation's H.M. Judges Annual Dinner addressed by Michael Gove
The People's Assembly Against Austerity to stage a mass 'die-in' in front of Parliament in protest against welfare cuts



11:30: International development questions (topicals at 11:53am)
12:00: PMQs

Main business - Budget statement
Adjournment debate on Long term economic plan for the South West of England, led by Dr Liam Fox


9:30 - 11:00: Performance of Southern railway (Nick Herbert)
11:00 - 11:30: Norfolk and Suffolk Broads (Keith Simpson)
14:30 - 16:00: Report of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict (Holly Lynch)
16:00 - 16:30: Effect on recipients of the transfer of the ILF to local authorities (Nic Dakin)
16:30 - 17:30: Cremation of infants in England (Daniel Kawczynski)


15.00: Oral questions, to ask the Government:
- Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab): What plans they have to restore the link between funding and need to local government funding; and what assessment they have made of the impact of local government funding cuts on both the most and least deprived local authorities in the United Kingdom.
- Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab): What steps they plan to take to (1) implement their pledge to work to eliminate child poverty, and (2) meet the 2020 statutory targets set out in the Child Poverty Act 2010.
- Viscount Hanworth (Lab): What is the annual forecast cost for (1) storing, and (2) protecting, the stocks of plutonium at Sellafield in a. 2015, b. 2025, and c. beyond 2025, if there is no decision to deal with the material otherwise.
 - Topical questions

Main business - European Union (Finance) Bill: Second Reading and remaining stages and debate on the reports into investigatory powers (Lord Bates, Con)
Lords Committees - EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee (10:00am, room 3) and Constitution Committee (10:15am, room 1)