Not-budget day — Perfect leak timing — Sucks to w4mp – POLITICO

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By EMILIO CASALICCHIO

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Good Friday morning. This is Emilio Casalicchio. Eleni Courea will be back to kick off next week.

DRIVING THE DAY

NOT-BUDGET DAY: Prime Minister Liz Truss and her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng take a massive gamble this morning — ushering in the biggest tax cuts in decades in the hope of boosting British growth at a time of economic peril. Kwarteng will deliver what the government is dubbing a “fiscal event” but the rest of Westminster knows is a mini-budget that won’t be at all mini. Instead, tens of billions of pounds will be scrubbed from the tax codes, to be plugged with government borrowing to keep the ship afloat. 

Our little war on taxes: One senior Conservative MP quipped to Playbook that the government spin on its budget was akin to Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine — i.e. a war dressed up as a targeted combat exercise. The dissembling also means independent government economists have been banned from assessing the package of measures and producing economic forecasts against it, as would happen for a full budget.

How to present a not-budget: The Cabinet is meeting this morning to rubber stamp the plans, before Kwarteng exits No. 11 Downing Street to hot-tail it to the Commons. He will deliver a statement at 9.30 a.m. (assuming there are no urgent questions) which will last about 30 minutes. Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves will get to respond for about half that time, before other MPs get to chime in for a couple of hours. When Kwarteng sits down after his first 30 minutes, a not-budget document of about 30 pages will materialize on the government website. 

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The pitch: In the Commons, Kwarteng will vow to break the “vicious cycle of stagnation” and convert it into a “virtuous circle of growth,” according to an overnight press release. “We will be bold and unashamed in pursuing growth — even where that means taking difficult decisions,” he will insist.

The backchat: Reeves has penned an overnight piece in the FT offering a sense of what she will tell the Commons. She argues that the long-serving Cabinet ministers, in a bid to “present themselves as agents of change,” will denounce the previous six Conservative growth plans since 2010, “each announced with great fanfare but with little impact.” She adds that “the one constant over a decade of Tory government is low growth.”

Rach against the machine: The i’s Paul Waugh pointed out that Reeves and Kwarteng last clashed across the Commons as new MPs in 2010, when Kwarteng confused debt with deficit and sent a handwritten note afterwards to thank her for correcting him. 

DETAILS, DETAILS: The Kwarteng statement will be packed with content for something that isn’t a budget. Playbook will take you through what to expect.

All in the writing: Kwarteng and Truss were holed up in the Cabinet room last night putting the final touches on the package, which the government has christened “The Growth Plan” (their capitalization). It’s set to include more than 30 measures the pair hope will drive down inflation and boost growth while not scarring the public finances.

Starter: Kwarteng will reveal that 38 areas in England are bidding to establish the new “investment zones” Westminster has been hearing all about. Businesses within their boundaries will benefit from tax cuts and liberalized planning rules.

Main course: The centerpiece of the budget will be whopping tax cuts to businesses and individuals in a bid to get Brits investing and spending. Alongside the reversal of the national insurance rise that Kwarteng announced ahead of time, the chancellor is expected to reverse the planned rise in corporation tax and cut taxes on home purchases. Times Political Editor Steven Swinford reckons those and more could amount to £50 billion.

Dessert: Kwarteng will also announce new laws to speed up major infrastructure projects across the U.K., targeting fuel generation, roads and rail. The government pointed to numerous examples where projects have taken muuuuuch longer than reasonable to get through the planning and completion stages. A decade and a half to build a single new tube line across London (which is still to open in full) is the one that boggles Playbook’s mind. 

Coffee: On top of all that, there are the other bits and bobs we’ve heard this week that are expected to be in there: uncapping banker bonuses … welfare reforms to force more claimants into work … reforms to various financial services … a reversal in the cut to tourism taxes (h/t Katy Balls).

Cheese … liqueurs … another sandwich? Don’t expect that to be it. One Whitehall source told the Guardian team that the package will contain “more rabbits than Watership Down.”

THE THING IS … whether the plans will in fact generate growth is an open question. Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, will be on Politics Live at noon to offer his assessment, while the IFS Twitter feed will be worth watching for its first reaction. 

Bear in mind: The British economic situation looks to be heading fast up the faecal creek at the moment, with the pound at its lowest level against the dollar for decades; inflation hovering at around 10 percent (homeowners who love horror movies should read this thread); interest rates at their highest for almost a decade and a half; and … er … a recession. 

Amid all that mess … there are fears that Trussonomics might in fact put a bomb under the entire circus. “The fear is that this is going to be deeply inflationary,” one MP told the Times. Resolution Foundation boss Torsten Bell spelled out in this thread late last night how “turbocharging” borrowing might not be the best idea right now.

The race against time hots up: While most Conservative MPs are willing to give the Truss blueprint a chance, she doesn’t have time on her side, my POLITICO colleague Annabelle Dickson writes in a walk-up piece to the not-budget. “I suspect there are many Conservative MPs who will be ready to drop her immediately if the economy doesn’t turn quickly,” a former minister told Annabelle.

Vintage markets: Others think the more pressing danger for Truss is the markets. “That is the audience that I think is more likely to constrain what they do, rather than either public opinion or Conservative parliamentary opinion,” David Gauke, a former chief secretary to the Treasury under Theresa May, said.

More optimistic … are businesses, who are stoked about the reversal on national insurance contributions and are hoping for more. Craig Beaumont from the Federation of Small Businesses (which led the campaign on the national insurance issue) told Playbook the announcements “could mark the end of the ‘fuck business era’” — in reference to the famous Boris Johnson quote the former PM never quite recovered from.

But of course … the most optimistic person in the room is Liz Truss, who is sure that Trussonomics is the path forward. “Lower taxes lead to economic growth, there’s no doubt in my mind about that,” she told reporters this week. But there was no doubt in her mind when she joined the Lib Dems either, or when she called for the monarchy to be abolished, or when she campaigned for Remain. Is having politicians who go balls-deep on their ideologies, then U-turn and go balls-deep on something else such a great idea? 

NOW HEAR THIS: The podcast my POLITICO colleague Jack Blanchard made about when budgets (and that includes not-budgets) go wrong could be a nice time killer before 9.30 a.m. Listen here.

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LABOUR LAND

SCOOP OF THE DAY: Labour could pledge to abolish the House of Lords ahead of the next election, according to a leaked version of the constitutional review former PM Gordon Brown has been putting together for Keir Starmer. The Guardian’s Jess Elgot has seen the document, which suggests replacing the upper chamber with an assembly of regions and nations, which would safeguard the constitution and be able to refer the government to the Supreme Court. 

It doesn’t end there: The review also proposes devolving economic powers, and a crackdown on standards in government and parliament which would include (do it, do it, do it) juries of citizens ruling on complaints against MPs and ministers. Lots more in the full write–up. 

PERFECT LEAK TIMING FOR … The spotlight to fall on Labour as its conference kicks off in Liverpool this weekend (Sunday program later in the email). Cue endless questions about whether Labour should or will pledge to abolish the Lords. 

Expect to see at conference … a guest appearance from Gary Neville, according to Mirror political editor (as of tomorrow night) John Stevens. He tweeted that the former footballer has been working with Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell on the party’s approach to football governance. 

Also expect to see … soundbites that don’t mean all that much but that make Labour sound big and hard. “Punish, prevent, protect” will be the new mantra on crime, according to Rachel Wearmouth in the New Statesman. No doubt Labour brainiacs stewed over the word order of that one for hours.

Don’t expect to see … cable firm Tratos, whose Conservative-donating boss Maurizio Bragagni faced criticism from Labour Chair Anneliese Dodds over his comments about Muslims in Britain. The Guardian’s Henry Dyer got the scoop that Tratos had bought exhibition space at the event. 

Fingers crossed for … some actual Labour policies, such as the plan for childcare that Bridget Phillipson promised this week. 

Inevitable rows: No doubt there will be bust-ups about the performance of the national anthem and the ongoing deselections in Ilford South and Poplar and Limehouse.

Actual scandal? Al Jazeera released a trailer last night for a new documentary about Labour that could be of interest or could be some over-spun mood piece like the one from 2017 about pro-Israel campaigners. 

Pre-conference boost: The Mirror’s Dan Bloom reports on new Opinium polling that finds 31 percent of self-employed Brits would back Labour, compared to 25 percent who would vote Conservative. The numbers were 36 percent for the Tories and 25 percent for Labour at the 2019 election.

TRAIN TO CONFERENCE LISTENING: On this week’s Westminster Insider, Ailbhe Rea takes listeners on a whistle-stop tour of the speeches, fringe events, Champagne receptions and bad karaoke at political conference. 

What’s in the box? Emily Thornberry dishes the dirt on karaoke, tight votes and the attempted ousting of Tom Watson on the eve of conference 2019, while former Tory advisers Jamie Njoku-Goodwin and Tim Smith share the inside track on behind-the-scenes jostling between Cabinet ministers. Also, the Mirror’s Mikey Smith discusses the famed conference “gaffe” — and how he derailed Labour conference when he recorded Angela Rayner calling the Tories “scum.”

Never fear, Lib Dems: There’s a tribute to Glee Club too.

TODAY IN WESTMINSTER

HOUSE OF COMMONS: Sits from 9.30 a.m. with any UQs (not expected) before the Kwarteng statement. Lib Dem MP Layla Moran has an adjournment debate on the proposed re-opening of Campsfield House immigration removal center.

😬😬😬 You don’t expect to hear a government minister going all lukewarm on policies that were announced just hours earlier, but that’s what Cabinet Office Minister Brendan Clarke-Smith did on Question Time last night when asked about fracking. “I’m fairly neutral on it, I want to see more evidence,” he said. That one won’t help after the multiple attacks from Conservative MPs in the Commons over the plans. 

On a related note … “Plans to block new North Sea oil and gas projects if they are incompatible with Britain’s climate goals have quietly been ditched,” according to Adam Vaughan in the Times. 

SUCKS TO W4MP: Sky News has released the second instalment of its “Open Secret” podcast by Liz Bates and Agnes Chambre on misconduct in parliament. It includes a former Labour staff member revealing she was forced to “scrub stains out of the carpet” in her MP’s office and another who said she had experienced “the most traumatic mental health breakdown I’ve ever had” working for an MP who would scream at her. Elsewhere, one Conservative staffer said a colleague was fired for a social media post her MP had done herself while drunk. 

COMING ATTRACTIONS: Playbook hears that the growing expectation in Westminster is that the coronation of King Charles III will take place on June 2, 2023. It’s the same date Queen Elizabeth II had her coronation and of course 12 months on from her 70th jubilee.

MUST DO BETTER: Private school-educated Education Secretary Kit Malthouse wrote in his student uni paper that people who went to comprehensive schools got a “less-than-adequate education,” the Telegraph reveals this morning. A pal of Malthouse told the paper it was a “satirical” letter and the minister does not and did not hold such views for real.

For the record: Your Playbook author went to a comprehensive school and came out with a less-than-adequate education — but it wasn’t just the fault of the school.

WE COULDN’T NOT MENTION: Fellow gossip sheet PopBitch had a couple of excellent political nuggets in its latest edition last night: It revealed rumors that “one prominent cabinet minister is already said to have struck up an extramarital affair with one of the newly installed advisors at No.10.” It also said deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner was spotted on a train to Stockport handing a dropped bank card back to its owner with the quip: “Good job I’m not a Tory.”

BREXIT DIVIDEND LATEST: A meeting of EU and U.K. officials in Brussels yesterday failed to unblock Britain’s post-Brexit participation in EU schemes, including the Horizon Europe science research program, which the European Commission has put on hold in retaliation over the Northern Ireland protocol row.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Nominations for the election of new science and foreign affairs committee chairs will close at 3.30 p.m. on October 11, with a ballot taking place the next day if necessary. The timetables were revised after the queen died and parliament went on hiatus.

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BEYOND THE M25

FROM RUSSIA WITH FEAR: Scores of videos online show the queues of cars at Russian borders as men attempt to avoid being forcibly enlisted to fight in Ukraine, after flights sold out. There’s lots of good writing around about the frantic situation, in particular from the Guardian’s Pjortr Sauer, who spoke to over a dozen men and women who have fled Russia in the past 48 hours, and Andrew Roth.

Zelenskyy response: In his evening address last night, Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed for Russian soldiers to protest, fight back, or surrender to Ukrainian captivity. “These are your options if you want to survive,” he said. Watch it here.

As for Europe … Germany signalled that it would be willing to take in Russians who have fled out of objection to the war. Elsewhere, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and the Czech Republic all struck a different tone. The BBC has the full details.

ROMAN’S REDEMPTION? Ex-Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich — and his swish private jet — played a key role in getting the five freed British POWs out of Russia, the Sun’s Amir Razavi and Paul Sims report.

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MEDIA ROUND

Leveling Up Secretary Simon Clarke broadcast round: Sky News (7.05 a.m.) … LBC (7.40 a.m.) … Today program (8.10 a.m.).

Leveling Up Minister Paul Scully will be filling in for Clarke on Times Radio (7.50 a.m.) … GB News (8.20 a.m.) … Good Morning Britain (8.30 a.m.) … and talkTV (8.44 a.m.).

Also on Kay Burley: Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Pat McFadden (8.05 a.m.) … Treasury committee Chairman Mel Stride (8.20 a.m.).

Also on Today program: Pat McFadden (7.50 a.m.) … Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan (8.30 a.m.).

Times Radio Breakfast: Former Pensions Minister Ros Altmann (7.30 a.m.) … Former deputy project manager at NATO Allied Command Transformation in Virginia, adjunct professor of European Security at Georgetown University Iulia Joja (7.40 a.m.) … Pat McFadden (8.35 a.m.).

Also on Nick Ferrari at Breakfast: Crossbench peer Terence Burns (7.20 a.m.) … Social Mobility Commission Chair Katharine Birbalsingh (8.20 a.m.).

Also on TalkRADIO breakfast: Education committee Chairman Robert Halfon (7 a.m.) … Pat McFadden (8.21 a.m.) … Former Lib Dem leader Vince Cable (9 a.m.).

Politics Live (BBC Two 9 a.m.): Labour MP Angela Eagle … Tory MP Helen Whately … IFS boss Paul Johnson … Chief Secretary to the Treasury Chris Philp … His shadow Pat McFadden … SNP MP Stephen Flynn … Lib Dem leader Ed Davey.

Reviewing the papers tonight: Sky News (10.30 and 11.30 p.m.): Mirror columnist Susie Boniface and deputy editor of the Spectator Freddy Gray.

TODAY’S FRONT PAGES

(Click on the publication’s name to see its front page.)

Daily Express: Go for growth! Big tax cuts to herald new era.

Daily Mail: Biggest tax cuts for 30 years!

Daily Mirror: One more child lost to knife epidemic.

Daily Star: Don’t tell ’em your name, Pike

Financial Times: BoE increases rates by 0.5 percentage points and hints at big November rise.

HuffPostUK: Will mini-budget save U.K. ‘in recession’?

i: Millions face mortgage hike as U.K. heads into recession.

Metro: Back from death row.

POLITICO UK: Liz Truss’ tax-cutting gamble.

PoliticsHome: Government confirms National Insurance rise will be reversed from November.

The Daily Telegraph: Chancellor warn Bank to get grip on inflation.

The Guardian: Economy in recession, says Bank as Kwarteng unveils mini-budget.

The Independent: Chancellor axes planning rules in bid for growth.

The Sun: Red Rom gets Brit POWs out — Abramovich with them on jet.

The Times: Tax cut bonanza in bid to stop the economic rot.

TODAY’s NEWS MAGS

The Economist: Should Europe worry? Giorgia Meloni and the threat from the Italian right.

THANK POD IT’S FRIDAY

Chopper’s Politics: Christopher Hope interviews former Labour spinner Peter Mandelson (following on from his recent News Agents appearance) and Shadow Leveling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy.

EU Confidential: France’s Emmanuel Macron, Spain’s Pedro Sanchez and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell are among a star-studded cast of guests on POLITICO’s flagship podcast, recorded at UNGA in New York.

Inside Briefing: The IfG team preview Labour conference with former Ed Miliband aide Ayesha Hazarika.

Newscast: The BBC team interview Cobra beer boss Karan Bilimoria on the Truss economy plan.

Politics Weekly UK: The Guardian’s John Harris talks about the Truss economy plan with economist Miatta Fahnbulleh and former Treasury Minister David Gauke.

The Bunker: Journalist Gavin Esler discusses Truss’ deregulation plans with Alex Andreou, Miatta Fahnbulleh and Andrew Harrison

The News Agents: Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall interview Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner.

The Open Secret: Sky’s Liz Bates hears about parliament’s bullying problem from several political staffers.

The Rundown: The PolHome team discuss the Truss economy plan with Treasury committee Chairman Mel Stride and IFS chief Paul Johnson.

Westminster Insider: Ailbhe Rea speaks to Labour’s Emily Thornberry, the Mirror’s Mikey Smith and former SpAds Jamie Njoku-Goodwin and Tim Smith.

YOUR WEEKEND IN POLITICS

LABOUR CONFERENCE: The bash kicks off on Sunday morning in Liverpool, with leader Keir Starmer leading tributes to the late Queen Elizabeth II (10.45 a.m.). He’ll be followed on the main stage on Sunday by key Labour figures including his deputy Angela Rayner (11.25 a.m.) … General Secretary David Evans (11.40 a.m.) … Party Chair Anneliese Dodds (11.50 a.m.) … and national campaign co-ordinator Shabana Mahmood (1.20 p.m.). The fun stuff can be found next week — or on the fringes.

Picks of the Sunday fringe: A discussion on winning the gray vote with Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jon Ashworth (noon) … The Tony Blair Institute has sent a hopeful invite to Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy for its session on “how to make Brexit work” (12.30 p.m.) … The Labour friends of Ukraine fringe event features Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko (3.30 p.m.) … Editor of the Guardian Katherine Viner will grill Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham for an hour and a half (5.30 p.m.) … and for anyone having too much fun, make sure to catch former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and other Labour lefties at an event titled “What would a nuclear war look like?” (6 p.m.).

LIVERPOOL WEATHER: ⛅️⛅️⛅️ All weekend.

SUNDAY SHOWS, live from Liverpool: The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg will be joined by Labour leader Keir Starmer (BBC One, 9 a.m.).

Sky’s Sophy Ride will be talking to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and former Labour spinner Peter Mandelson (Sky News, 8.30 a.m.).

Kate McCann and Adam Boulton on Times Radio will be talking to Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds (Times Radio, 10 a.m.).

Andrew Neil will be talking to former Chancellor George Osborne and former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls for the return of his show (Channel 4, 6.15 p.m.).

Westminster Hour host Carolyn Quinn will be talking to Tory MP Tom Hunt, the i’s Paul Waugh, Liverpool University’s Jon Tonge and a Labour MP TBC (BBC Radio 4, 10 p.m.).

LONDON CALLING

WESTMINSTER WEATHER: 🌦🌦🌦 Some sun and some rain. Highs of 19C.

BEST WISHES TO: Cabinet Office cat Ossiepictured here with CDL Nadhim Zahawi — as he recovers from a day in emergency care after eating lily leaves.

SPOTTED: At the leaving drinks for John Stevens at the Clarence in Whitehall, as he moves from the Mail to the Mirror … the Mail’s Jason Groves, Martin Beckford and Harriet Line … the Mail on Sunday’s Claire Ellicott … No. 10’s Alex Wild … SpAd Rhiannon Padley … ex-SpAds James Starkie, Josh Grimstone, Charlie Rowley, Oliver (Sonic) Lewis and Jamie Njoku-Goodwin … Labour advisers Nicola Bartlett and Sarah Brown … the Times’ Steve Swinford, Henry Zeffman, Matt Dathan, Larisa Brown, Matt Chorley, Patrick Maguire and Tom Payne … the Guardian’s Pippa Crerar, Bree Allegretti and Dan Sabbagh … the Sunday Times’ Harry Yorke … the Sun’s Ryan Sabey … the Sun on Sunday’s Kate Ferguson … the Mirror’s Dan Bloom, Aletha Adu and Ash Cowburn … Sky’s Mhari Aurora, Tamara Cohen and Joe Pike … the Telegraph’s Ben Riley-Smith, Dan Martin and Tony Diver … the i’s Hugo Gye … the Spectator’s Katy Balls … the New Statesman’s Rachel Wearmouth and many more. Here’s a couple of pics

SPAD MOVES: Former Crosby Textor spinner Rory Boden has been appointed media SpAd to Conservative chair Jake Berry.

SO LONG, FAREWELL: Top legislative expert Christopher James has left Downing Street after helping to fight numerous Boris Johnson battles against parliament. He offers heartfelt thanks to colleagues in this Twitter thread

WHO IS THE GREENEST OF THEM ALL? Who is your pick for the most influential person on green issues in Europe? POLITICO is compiling a list of the personalities who will shape environment policy over the next 12 months. The Green 28 list will be unveiled at an online event on October 12. Nominate someone here (and don’t all vote for Alok Sharma at once).

BIRTHDAYS: Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price … Lib Dem peer Floella Benjamin … U.K. Ambassador to the U.S. Karen Pierce … U.K. Ambassador to Italy Ed Llewellyn … Labour peer Jenny McIntosh … Former Tory peer Joan Hanham … Crossbench peer Colin Low … Former UKIP MEP William Legge … Panorama’s Hilary Andersson … Labour adviser Emma Barnes … Tim Farron’s former chief of staff Ben Williams … and barrister Cherie Blair turns 68.

Happy belated birthday to … Executive Director for Government Communication Alex Aiken.

Celebrating over the weekend: Tamworth MP Chris Pincher … Trade Minister Conor Burns … Home Office Minister Jeremy Quin … Shadow Justice Minister Anna McMorrin … Stockton South MP Matt Vickers … Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann … Trade Envoy to Algeria Richard Spring … Herald columnist Iain Macwhirter … Sunday Times Executive Editor Ben Preston … Shadow Brexit Minister Jenny Chapman … Crossbench peer Vivien Stern … Tory peer Philippa Roe … Tory peer Liz Redfern … Tory peer Aamer Sarfraz … Midlands Connect spinner and former Tim Farron aide Paul Butters … Times Radio’s Matt Chorley … The Independent’s John Rentoul … NSPCC boss Peter Wanless … Former Tory staffer Tom Fieldhouse … Former U.K. Ambassador to Kuwait Michael Davenport.

PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editor Zoya Sheftalovich, reporter Andrew McDonald and producer Grace Stranger.

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Emilio Casalicchio

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