This year’s Budget takes place just days before the Prime Minister is expected to trigger Article 50, starting the process of Britain leaving the European Union. This will be the Brexit Budget, crafted to steady nerves in the City, promote consumer confidence, and send a message to Brussels that the British economy will be motoring forward, even as we reverse out of the EU.
The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has created for himself a degree of flexibility in his approach to managing the government’s finances. In November’s Autumn Statement, he axed George Osborne’s three golden rules: reducing debt each year, creating a surplus by 2019 and limiting welfare spending. He was given a boost after a surge in tax receipts sent Government borrowing to its lowest January level in 17 years. However, according to the Financial Times, he has told MPs that “there is no pot of money under my desk.” He has already vowed not to touch a £27bn “room for manoeuvre” war chest because of potential uncertainty when Brexit negotiations get under way.