FT_springbudget

Chancellor Philip Hammond presented his first and last Spring Budget against a backdrop of economic resilience since the Brexit referendum last summer. It came amid heightened uncertainty as the government prepares to invoke Article 50 to leave the EU.

Read our summary of the Budget announcements here

Key points

 

MAS_carney_four_20170201174759

The Bank of England has left interest rates on hold and kept its bond-buying programme unchanged. It has increased growth forecast for the next three years and said it will continue to tolerate higher inflation.

Key points

  • Bank holds rate at 0.25%
  • Government bond buying target remains at £435bn plus £10bn of corporate bonds
  • Sterling weakens against dollar as markets rule out chance of near-term rate rise

By Gavin Jackson and Elaine Moore

 

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a speech on leaving the European Union at Lancaster House in London

The British prime minister Theresa May set out her Brexit blueprint in a speech in London on Tuesday, giving more clarity about the sort of deal the UK is seeking to negotiate with the remaining 27 members of the EU.

Key points

  • UK will come out of the single market and customs union and has an “open mind” on what future customs deal would look like
  • Government wants a “phased process of implementation”, but not “unlimited transitional status”.
  • Promises to put final deal to vote in both Houses of Parliament
  • UK will leave EU without an exit deal, if no good deal on offer.
  • May warns other EU member states that any attempt at a “punitive deal” for Britain would be “calamitous” for the rest of Europe.
  • Post-Brexit, the UK will reintroduce immigration controls on EU citizens; no unilateral guarantee to EU nationals resident in the UK
  • Common travel area between UK and Ireland will remain.
  • Promises to continue to cooperate with EU on defence and use UK’s “unique intelligence capabilities” in fight against terrorism
  • She says the vote to leave was not aimed at damaging the EU

By Mark Odell and Jim Pickard

 

MAS_ASblogillo

Chancellor Philip Hammond is presenting his first Autumn Statement to the House of Commons today, setting out the Conservative government’s plans for taxes, spending and borrowing as the UK prepares for Brexit.

Key points:

 

EU referendum

The Bank of England has increased it forecasts for growth and inflation for this year and next, part of its quarterly update on the economy. It also held interest rates.

Meanwhile the UK government has lost its case in the High Court over whether it can trigger Article 50 without a parliamentary vote, and will now file an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Key developments

  • The BoE now expects inflation to hit 2.7% next year, and stay that high in 2018

  • The Bank unanimously voted to hold hold interest rates

  • The UK government has lost its case on triggering Article 50 in the High Court, and will appeal

  • UK services PMI rises to 54.5 from 52.6 – fastest pace of growth since January

 

File photo of Bank of England governor Mark Carney during a news conference at the Bank of England in London

Mark Carney is up in front of the Treasury Select Committee. Brexit and the economy are in focus. The appearance by the governor of the Bank of England follows that of Theresa May in Parliament, her first since the summer recess, where she effectively ducked most questions on Brexit

Key points

  • Carney tells MPs he is “absolutely serene” about his comments warning of a post-Brexit downturn

  • Bank of England governor says he was “comfortable” with the rate cut decision taken in August

  • May tells House government will not disclose negotiating position on Brexit

  • PM Repeats assertion that she can trigger Article 50 Brexit divorce clause without consent of parliament.

 

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May Makes Her First Statement As The Country's New Leader

Theresa May, Britain’s new prime minister, has announced sweeping changes with her first cabinet.

Meanwhile the Bank of England has surprised markets by leaving interest rates on hold. Many had been expecting a cut.

Key appointments

  • Philip Hammond (treasury)
  • Boris Johnson (foreign office)
  • Amber Rudd (home office)
  • Justine Greening (education)
  • Liz Truss (justice)
  • David Davis (Brexit minister)
  • Liam Fox (international trade)
  • Jeremy Hunt (health)
  • Damian Green (work and pensions)
  • Michael Fallon (defence)
  • Chris Graylling (transport)
  • Andrea Leadsom (environment)

Key departures

  • George Osborne (treasury)
  • Michael Gove (justice)
  • Nicky Morgan (education)
  • Stephen Crabb (work and pensions)
  • John Whittingdale (culture)
  • Oliver Letwin (cabinet office)
  • Theresa Villers (Northern Ireland)

 

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May Makes Her First Statement As The Country's New Leader

Theresa May has taken over as prime minister after David Cameron ended his six-year tenure. She becomes the second female prime minister of the UK 26 years after the first, Margaret Thatcher, resigned.

Mrs May has started to form her cabinet with key appointments announced late on Wedneday.

Key cabinet appointments

  • Philip Hammond becomes chancellor

  • David Davis takes on new role as secretary of state for Brexit

  • Boris Johnson becomes foreign secretary

  • Amber Rudd takes over as home secretary

  • Michael Fallon remains defence secretary

  • Liam Fox is appointed in a new role as international trade secretary

 

Conservative leadership bid

Theresa May will take over as the next British prime minister on Wednesday, incumbent David Cameron has said. The swift handover of power came after her only rival, Andrea Leadsom, pulled out of the race to become the next leader of the rulling Conservative party..

Key points

  • David Cameron says he will offer his formal resignation to the Queen on Wednesday

  • 1922 committee confirms Theresa May as new leader of the Conservative party, making her prime minister-elect

  • Andrea Leadsom withdraws from Tory leadership race, saying period of uncertainty “highly undesirable”

  • Labour’s Angela Eagle begins formal challenge to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership

  • Lib Dems, Greens call for early general election

 

MAS_threecontenders_20160707155009

Theresa May, the home secretary, and pro-Brexit campaigner Andrea Leadsom, are through to the final two in the race to be the next Conservative leader.

Michael Gove was eliminated in the final round of voting at Westminster.

The two leading candidates will now be presented to 125,000 party members to make the final choice for their new party leader who will replace David Cameron as prime minister

Key points

  • May won the votes of 199 out of 330 Tory MPs in the second round of voting

  • Leadsom came second with 84

  • Gove was eliminated after coming third with 46

  • The result of the members’ ballot is due by September 9

 

Sir John Chilcot Delivers The Iraq Inquiry Report

Sir John Chilcot has released his long-awaited report on the UK involvement in the Iraq war, which has led to more than 500,000 civilian deaths in the country.

Sir John said the UK government “chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options of disarmament had been exhausted” and “military action at that time was not a last resort”.

Prime minister David Cameron tells MPs that the report is not “accusing anyone of deliberate explicit deceit” while Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, formally apologises on behalf of the Labour Party for taking the country to war.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said he stood by his decision to back an invasion and that the report “should lay to rest allegations of bad faith, lies or deceit.”

Key findings

  • Blair committed to an invasion almost eight months before receiving parliamentary and legal backing

  • The invasion was based on “flawed intelligence and assessments” that went unchallenged

  • The UK was “undermining” the UN Security Council’s authority in the absence of majority support for military action.

  • The inquiry did not express a view on whether military action was legal but concluded “the circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for UK military action were far from satisfactory”.

 

Getty

The UK has voted to leave the EU after a bitter and divisive campaign.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will resign by the time of the Conservative party conference in October.

Boris Johnson has said that the British people “have spoken up for democracy”. The EU was “a noble idea for its time,” he said. “It is no longer
right for this country.”.

Financial markets across the world are down sharply. Sterling has plummeted and banking stocks are taking a heavy beating in early trading.

Bank of England govenor Mark Carney has said they “will not hesitate to take any additional measures” to ensure monetary and financial stability.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has she will begin to prepare the legislation for a new vote on Scottish independence.

View the referendum night live blog

Key points

  • It is a Leave victory – see our interactive results page
  • Most of the country has turned against the EU with only London, Scotland and Northern Ireland delivering big wins for Remain.
  • Turnout was 72%, with 16,141,241 cast in favour of Remain and 17,410,742 in favour of Leave
  • Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will resign and that the new PM should be the one to decide when to trigger Article 50.
  • The financial markets are in turmoil, sterling has fallen dramatically and volatility is hitting other major currencies. The Euro is suffering its worst day ever against the dollar. Banking stocks are particularly hard hit.
  • The Bank of England has said it will “take all necessary steps to meet its responsibilities for monetary and financial stability.” Both the BoE and the ECB has said it is ready to provide additional liquidity if needed
  • Leave campaigners Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have said informal negotiations will now start on the exit.
  • Nicola Sturgeon confirms preparations for a new Scottish independence referendum

 

U.K. Voters Head To The Polls In The EU Referendum

It’s decision day. Britain is voting on whether to leave the European Union after a bitter and divisive campaign.

With the result too close to call, turnout is likely to be crucial. The Remain and Leave camps are pulling out the stops to ensure the maximum number of their supporters actually vote.

The referendum has pitted old against young, towns against cities, and split political parties. So all eyes will be on early returns in the north and later London.

We will be updating this live blog throughout the night, with the results possible in early Friday morning. You can also follow us on our Twitter account @FT.

Key points

  • Polls are open from 7am to 10pm
  • A record 46,499,537 people are entitled to vote
  • Initial indications from around the country are of high turnout, with many polling stations reporting queues
  • FT poll of opinion polls on Wednesday night put Remain fractionally ahead at 47% versus 45% for Leave
  • Sterling earlier hit its highest level this year, before retreating. Markets are braced for major fluctuations in the currency overnight given thin trading conditions
  • Official statistics released on the morning of the vote show that the nation’s population has hit 65 million

 

A screengrab taken from UK Parliaments P

Sir Philip Green faced MPs to give his account of what happened when he sold BHS last year to a consortium led by Dominic Chappell, an ex-bankrupt, who by his own admission knew nothing about retailing. The retailer went into administration earlier this year leaving future of its 11,000 staff in doubt and many of the 20,000 members of its pension scheme facing cuts to their retirement with the fund in need of a bailout estimated at £275m.

The flamboyant businessman’s appears in front of the parliamentary committee that last week heard a flavour of the internal feuding between management and new owners, including allegations a death threat was made against the chief executive and there plans to hive off assets before the retailer collapsed.

Key developments

  • Sir Philip said there is a plan “in motion” to resolve the BHS pension deficit

  • In a heated session, the retail entrepreneur avoided answering quite a lot of the detailed questions

  • But he does admit “unfortunately” he sold BHS “to the wrong guy.”

  • On several occasions during a near 6-hour hearing he accuses MPs on the committee of “bullying” him

  • He denies blocking a potential rescue bid by SportsDirect just before BHS collapsed

  • He hits out suggestions he was involved in tax avoidance and points out he and his companies have paid “hundreds of millions” in tax

By Mark Odell, Lauren Fedor, John Murray Brown and Lucinda Elliott

 

A vote for Brexit is likely to cost jobs, raise prices and see the pound fall sharply, the Bank of England has warned in its quarterly inflation report on Thursday in its most outspoken comments to date on the consequences of the EU referendum. For once the Bank of England’s quarterly inflation report is not about the forecast or the outlook for interest rates – which have been kept on hold – it is about the tone Governor Mark Carney takes today as he presents the central bank’s latest update.

By Emily Cadman and Mark Odell

  • Carney warns Brexit “could possibly” lead to a “technical recession”

  • Carney says the Bank “did not develop a full projection” for a Leave vote

  • Governor refuses to be drawn on any potential upside of Brexit

 

George Osborne’s eighth Budget comes at a time of slowing growth and with the government split over Europe. The chancellor needs to show he still has a grip on the public finances, while keeping Conservative backbenchers happy.

Key developments:

  • Economic outlook – growth forecast cut this year from 2.4 per cent to 2 per cent.

  • Public finances – debt to GDP forecast revised up from 81.7 per cent to 82.3 per cent for 2016-17.

  • Government spending – new annual cuts of £3.5bn by 2020.

  • Corporation tax – to fall from 20 per cent at the start of this parliament to 17 per cent by 2020.

  • Sugar tax – new levy on sugary drinks to tackle childhood obesity.

  • Capital gains tax – cut from 28 per cent to 20 per cent.

  • ISAs – limit to rise from £15,000 to £20,000.

  • Tax-free persons tax allowance – raised to £11,500, effecting 31m people

  • Higher rate tax threshold – raised to £45,000

 

David Cameron is facing MPs for the first time since securing a package of reforms in Brussels to present his case for the UK remaining in the European Union. The prime minister’s appearance in the House of Commons follows a tumultuous weekend after his return from talks with European leaders on Friday, which has seen six of his cabinet ministers and Boris Johnson, the London mayor, back the “out” campaign.

Key points

  • Cameron presents what he calls a “new settlement” for Britain after almost two days of talks in Brussels

  • The reforms cover migration, protections for the City of London and an exemption for Britain from “ever closer union”

  • A quarter of the cabinet is at odds with the PM over Europe, including his close friend Michael Gove, the justice secretary.

  • The Conservatives are facing a damaging split with as many as 150 MPs, almost half the parliamentary party, expected to back Brexit

  • The opposition Labour Party is backing the campaign to remain in the EU, along with business leaders and trade unions

By Mark Odell and Jim Pickard

 

The House of Commons has voted to extend air strikes against Isis from Iraq into Syria following a debate that lasted more than 10 hours. Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn opposed the motion, but more than 60 of his MPs sided with the government given it a majority of 174. The RAF has been conducting airstrikes over Iraq for over a year, as part of a broad US-led coalition.

Key points

  • 397 MPs backed the motion authorising the UK to launch air strikes in Syria; 223 voted against:

  • The amendment to block air strikes was defeated by a majority of 179; 211 For vs 390 Against

  • Air strikes by the RAF in Syria could follow within hours; extra jets will be dispatched to the British base in Cyprus

  • More than 60 MPs look to have defied party leadership to back motion in a free vote

  • Hilary Benn, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary delivers impassioned speech in favour of air strikes

Read more:

By Mark Odell, Josh Noble and John Murray Brown

 

UK Chancellor George Osborne has delivered his Autumn statement to the House of Commons.

Key points:

  • Tax credits: Controversial changes ditched altogether. Extra borrowing will make up the shortfall in the first few years of the parliament

  • Housing: Stamp duty increased 3% for buy-to-let and second home buyers; 400,000 new affordable homes in England by 2020; new Help to Buy scheme just for London

  • Police: no cuts to budget

  • New tax to pay for social care, to be levied by local authorities as a 2% council tax precept

  • Departmental spending cuts: Transport -37%, Business -17%, Defra -15%, Energy -22%, Culture, Media and Sport -22% (but free museum entry will stay)

  • Budget surplus: target of £10bn by 2020 maintained

  • Local governments will be allowed to keep all cash generated from asset sales

  • Apprenticeship levy set at 0.5% of payroll, with £15,000 allowance to exempt small businesses

  • OBR forecasts: UK growth outlook remains broadly unchanged from July

  • Small business rate relief extended for 12 months to April 2017

  • Science funding protected in real terms for rest of Parliament

    By Ferdinando Giugliano, Jonathan Eley and Mark Odell

 

Chancellor George Osborne has been freed from the shackles of coalition government to deliver his seventh Budget but the first purely Conservative Budget in almost two decades.

Although dark clouds are gathering in the eurozone, Britain’s economic recovery continues at a steady pace and the public finances are slowly improving, giving him the opportunity to shape the economy, public finances and tax system for the next five years.

Mark Odell, Elizabeth Paton, Jonathan Eley and Ferdinando Giugliano