How the Chancellor of the Exchequer created cancel culture

I used to worry on holiday about not having cancelled the milk, which would grow into a phalanx of doorstep bottles semaphoring an opportunity to burglars. Now whole classes of society are ostracised or cancelled for disagreeing with the declared ‘values’ of companies.  Sir Robert Goodwill, the chairman of the environment committee, told the Daily Telegraph last week that banks are trying to ‘cancel the countryside’ by closing the accounts of shooting businesses. Hunts had found the same thing. It’s funny that cancel culture and the Chancellor of the Exchequer share the same origin, linguistically. They go back to the latticework barriers marking off the judge’s space in an ancient

Rishi Sunak’s slippery slope

There are two ways to see Rishi Sunak’s rescue package. One is an obviously needed and politically unavoidable boost to the economy and a relief for the cost-of-living crisis. The other is worrying jump towards the tax and spend policies that he once promised to avoid – and a sobering note for those who expected anything different from him. James Forsyth is inclined to the former, Kate Andrews and I are inclined to the latter. We all discuss in today’s Coffee House Shots podcast. There are many ways a Tory government could have helped households this week. Fuel costs are soaring but about 25 per cent of all electricity bills are

Rishi keeps coy on this week’s mini-Budget

What support might the Chancellor dish out to help with the cost of living squeeze in the Spring Statement this week? In line with his previous media appearances, Rishi Sunak’s statements ahead of his mini-Budget this morning on the BBC didn’t give much away, as the Chancellor ‘can’t speculate’ on what’s to come in his announcements this week. But the pressure is on to address the energy and basic goods prices which have been skyrocketing since we emerged from the height of the Covid emergency: the energy price cap lifts nearly £700 this spring, and is likely to rise again in the autumn. Sunak reiterated that his job now is

Johnson vs Sunak: The political battle of the autumn?

As ministers grow increasingly confident that they will be able to unlock by 19 July, Boris Johnson is facing a series of other political problems coming up the track. After the party lost the Chesham and Amersham by-election to the Liberal Democrats, Tory MPs with seats in the south are particularly restive. CCHQ has spent the weekend reaching out to these MPs in a bid to offer reassurance that the party has not forgotten about them. Yet the biggest problem Johnson faces is on spending. The spending review in the autumn will see all these various debates playing out Over the weekend, there have been a series of reports of

Rishi Sunak’s waffle exposed the flaw in Boris’s green agenda

Who pays? It is one of the most important questions in politics, especially when it comes to the sort of expensive zeitgeisty ideas that governments love to take a reputational ride on. When Margaret Thatcher was Tory leader, she tried to exempt her party from this charge of vulnerability to fashionable notions that come with eye-watering price tags attached, once observing:  ‘The Labour party scheme their schemes, the Liberal party dream their dreams, but we have work to do.’ Nobody who has followed the career of Boris Johnson at all closely would seek to exempt him. Indeed, ‘schemes and dreams’ appear to be what make him tick. So it is

Will Rishi Sunak’s Budget give Britain the boost it needs?

For a man who has only delivered two Budgets, Rishi Sunak is no stranger to fiscal announcements. Last March’s £30bn spending splurge was just the start of hundreds of billions of pounds spent in the fight against Covid-19. Today Sunak pledged another £65bn: furlough and the Universal Credit uplift were both extended; incentive payments for businesses to take on apprentices were doubled; and ‘restart grants’ worth £5bn to help businesses get back on their feet were unveiled. But this Budget wasn’t all giveaways. The Tory Chancellor announced a new, tiered system for corporation tax, which hikes the rate from 19 per cent to 25 per cent in 2023 for the most profitable businesses. He

Rishi Sunak’s New Labour pretensions

The House welcomed the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, as he announced his spending commitments for the coming year. Rish the Dish delivered all kinds of goals and priorities for the UK but he left his personal plans in obscurity. Or did he? The Chancellor’s naked ambition may be sheathed in a Jermyn Street suit but his strategy is easy to read: knife the Honey Monster and evict him from his lair. Today he was addressing himself to his colleagues in cabinet, and in the wider party, and he wanted to show political intelligence and presentational shrewdness. His critics have already accused him of betraying the NHS by freezing pay settlements for

Sunak warns of hardship

When Rishi Sunak was appointed Chancellor in February, he must never have imagined that his first address to the Conservative party conference would be made to an empty room. Nor would he have expected to have his entire speech dominated by a pandemic. Yet in his short, direct address, Sunak barely strayed from Covid-19. He reminded the public of the government’s vast interventions to curb the impact of the virus — and hinted at what steps might be taken in future as the Treasury deals with the aftermath of our six month spending spree. In a run-down of the many schemes — and billions of pounds — directed towards the crisis so

8 things you didn’t know about Rishi Sunak

It wasn’t the easiest news to have to break, but he delivered it with the kindness and compassion of a favourite uncle explaining to his nephew that his hamster has passed away. Afterwards, we were left thinking, “Well, what is a 20.4 per cent slump in the economy between friends, anyway?” Even the announcement that the UK is in the deepest recession of any G7 nation hasn’t taken the shine off Rishi Sunak’s approval rating, which remains light years ahead of other members of the government. When the Chancellor declares “we’ll do whatever it takes”, we believe him. “Genuine” and “likeable” are the words that come up in focus groups

Rishi-mania hits restaurants

It has been a long few months for the Prime Minister, who has seen both his personal and his party’s poll-ratings take a hit, as the government struggles with the coronavirus pandemic. However, there is one Tory whose popularity continues to buck the trend. Step forward Rishi Sunak. The Chancellor of the Exchequer appears to be able to do no wrong in the eyes of many, as he has splashed the cash to help Britons get through lockdown. Having made a bold stroke early in the crisis with the furlough scheme, which has cost over £30 billion so far, Sunak’s latest move is the introduction of ‘Eat Out to Help

Prepare for Javid vs Sunak in the next Tory leadership contest

In 1992 a young footballer named Dion Dublin left my local team, Cambridge United, to take up one of the most coveted jobs in football – centre-forward at Manchester United. After a promising first few outings, disaster struck when he suffered a broken leg. By the time he was restored to fitness a genius named Eric Cantona had been signed and was strutting his stuff up front. Being a good lad, young Dion took it well enough. But it was basically game over for him at Old Trafford. As Sajid Javid rose from the Commons back benches this week to ask Chancellor Rishi Sunak a question about his summer economic

Rishi Sunak should try something new: silence

A huge increase in job centre advisers; special grants for companies taking on trainees; free cash for anyone insulating their home; cuts to National Insurance; reduction in VAT, and a £500 shopping voucher to re-boot a collapsing High Street. Oh, and an emergency GCRF, or Garden Centre Rescue Fund, to subsidise anyone who helps our heroic horticultural industry by building a new rockery or water feature. Okay, I’ll admit, I made that last one up. But all the others are suggestions that have been put forward for the Chancellor’s mini economic statement tomorrow. But perhaps Rishi Sunak should try something new: silence. In truth, the government has done an extraordinary

Covid-19 business loans aren’t yet working

Last week’s report from the Office for Budget Responsibility made waves with its latest economic scenario, estimating a 35 per cent collapse in GDP in the second quarter of the year. But could even that dire prediction have been too optimistic? While the downturn was estimated by the OBR to be sharp, so too was the economy bounce-back, creating a V-shaped recovery and quick economic improvement. But internal Treasury assessments revealed by the Times today predict a U-shape recovery: a longer, more painful return to the status quo. In both scenarios, the millions made unemployed by the Covid-19 lockdown take longer to return to work than the economy does to technically

Sunak bails out charities – but are his measures actually working?

At Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing, Chancellor Rishi Sunak turned his attention (and the Treasury’s coffers) to the charity sector, which will receive £750 million to support vital services for the community. The money will be divided between small, local charities working with vulnerable people and charities that provide ‘essential services,’ with Sunak citing St John Ambulance and the Citizens Advice bureau as two examples of potential beneficiaries. The support comes as organisations like Cancer Research announced in recent days that they would have to scale back their medical research due to a projected drop in donations on which they rely to keep their services going. This pot will be intended to plug such funding

The Chancellor’s warning about the state of Britain’s finances

The Chancellor’s emergency package for the self-employed is one of the most generous schemes to be offered worldwide so far, covering up to 95 per cent of the UK’s self-employed workforce. The details of the scheme, explained here, include a taxable grant worth up to 80 per cent of one’s profits over the past three years, capped at £2,500pm – notably on par with salaried workers who earn, on average, £340 more each month than self-employed workers. There were plenty of potential pitfalls and unnecessary giveaways the Treasury managed to dodge: wary of dishing out cash to super-wealthy contractors and consultants, the Chancellor has only opened the scheme to workers trading with profits up to