The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 17 March 2016


In the Budget, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, kept talking of the ‘next generation’. He outlined cuts of £3.5 billion in public spending by 2020, to be ‘on course’ to balance the books. Personal allowances edged up for lower taxpayers, with the higher-rate threshold rising to £45,000. A ‘lifetime Isa’ for under-40s would be introduced. Corporation tax would go down to 17 per cent by 2020. Small-business rate relief was raised: a ‘hairdresser in Leeds’ would pay none. Fuel, beer, cider and whisky duty would be frozen. To turn all state schools into academies (removing local authorities from education), he earmarked £1.5 billion. He gave the go-ahead for Crossrail 2, north to south under London, and rail links in the North. A sugar levy on soft drinks companies would go to school sport.

Michael Gove, the Justice Secretary, and Gisela Stuart, the German-born Labour MP, were named as joint heads of the Vote Leave campaign for the referendum on the EU. An opinion poll by ORB for the Daily Telegraph found that 49 per cent of people would vote to leave the EU and 47 per cent to remain, but of those who said they would definitely vote, 52 per cent favoured leaving and 45 per cent remaining. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, said of people who feared mass immigration: ‘There is a tendency to say “Those people are racist,” which is just outrageous, absolutely outrageous.’ Unemployment fell to 1.68 million in January, 28,000 less than in the previous quarter. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies the composer, died, aged 81. Keith Emerson, co-founder of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, died, aged 71. Anita Brookner, the author of Hotel du Lac and 23 other novels, died, aged 87.

A fire that police called ‘suspicious’ destroyed the roof and badly damaged the 16th-century timber-framed Wythenshawe Hall in Manchester.

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