The spotlight is on George Osborne today as he prepares to deliver his Autumn Statement, updating MPs on the economy’s progress and his tax and spend plans, along with his Spending Review, revealing how much he will cut government departmental budgets over the next five years. What can we expect? The Chancellor will push ahead with “the biggest house building programme since the 1970s”, we report this morning, as he promises to end the “crisis of home ownership in our country”. Developing on his “we are the builders” slogan from Tory conference, he will double the Government’s housing budget and pour money into a raft of programmes to build 400,000 new homes across England.
Osborne will talk about more than just housing, as the Sun reports that he is also set to scale back his proposed tax credit cuts, telling concerned Tory MPs that they “won’t be disappointed”. The watered down cuts would only take £300 from affected families rather than £1,300, which disgruntled Tories are suggesting will mollify them. “We won’t be happy, but we could wear it,” one told the Times. The Chancellor will have to make some difficult cuts, with the Guardian reporting on upcoming cuts for the police and social care. Police chiefs have already been lining up to condemn the cuts, with Met assistant commissioner Mark Rowley saying it could be a “tipping point” in the fight against terrorism. Osborne also looks set to fail to rein in welfare spending, as mandated by his own Charter for Budget Responsibility, so will have to seek a vote on it within the next month. The welfare cap – which stands at £119.5bn a year – will be breached, a source told Sky News, “he’s not going to get it for next year”. He could signal a shake-up of sickness benefits as part of a renewed welfare push, with the Mail reporting that he will unveil plans to reform Employment and Support Allowance.
The Chancellor will be keen not to slip up, to avoid helping John McDonnell in his mission – as he told the New Statesman – to “destroy” Osborne’s credibility. The Shadow Chancellor also expressed his displeasure about Osborne’s favourite slogans, warning: “If I hear again that they’re going to ‘fix the roof while the sun shines’ I will throw up.” As Osborne aims today to bed in his “long-term economic plan”, will he have an eye on his own long-term leadership plan? His post-election Budget saw his star soar in the leadership stakes, and then take a knock once the potential impact of the tax credit cuts became known. What will he have in store today? Follow our liveblog to keep up to date, with full reporting and analysis throughout the day.
“In this Spending Review, we choose housing. Above all, we choose homes that people can buy.”
Corbyn’s Terror Tactics
Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of using “terror tactics” to bounce his shadow cabinet into opposing Syrian air strikes. “Those who oppose all use of force overseas will end up cowering in their bunker while the world’s tyrants and murderers take advantage of their weakness,” William Hague warns in today’s paper. This comes after twenty Labour MPs rebelled and voted on whether to renew Trident, despite being told to abstain by the Labour leader. Meanwhile, Corbyn was due to undergo intense media training to improve his speech delivery and interview technique – but failed to turn up on time.
Russia’s Stab In The Back
A Turkmen commander has told reporters of how a Russian warplane was shot down after it entered Turkish airspace. Vladimir Putin has accused Turkey of “stabbing Russia in the back”, but Con Coughlin writes in today’s paper that Russia had it coming. “Mr Putin might finally understand the truth of that old adage: if you play with fire, eventually you end up getting burned.”
IDS Sticks Up For Faith
Politicians have a “ridiculous” attitude to faith and should talk more freely about how it is an “integral part” of life, Iain Duncan Smith has said. The Work and Pensions Secretary said that after events like the Paris terror attacks “people need to know there is something else in their lives”. Meanwhile, bishops have condemned the Church of England for placing an advert in cinemas, branding those responsible “religious zealots” who were in danger of making religion “demonic”.
Jeremy Corbyn is being kept away from campaigning ahead of next week’s Oldham West by-election because of concerns he is “toxic” among voters, a Labour MP has told the Telegraph.
HMS Ocean Axed
The Government is to axe the Navy’s flagship HMS Ocean to save costs despite spending £65million on upgrading the vessel a year ago. There will be no like-for-like replacement for it, the Ministry of Defence admitted.
Tatler Tory Warning
Grant Shapps was personally warned by a senior Conservative MP about three cases of alleged bullying by the “Tatler Tory” Mark Clarke a year ago – but indicated he would do nothing about it, according to a former Tory minister.
HS2 Pays Well
The HS2 rail project employs 46 staff who earn more then the prime minister’s £150,000 salary and more than 70 who earn over £100,000 a year, it has emerged.
SNP MP Natalie McGarry has resigned from the party whip only hours after Nicola Sturgeon refused to suspend her while police investigate allegations that £30,000 has gone missing from the accounts of prominent pro-independence group. She denies any wrongdoing.