The next budget date has been announced

Yesterday’s 7am news was followed by a surprise additional item: the Government has announced a Budget date of Wednesday 6th November. The Treasury’s press release quotes the Chancellor as saying:

“This will be the first Budget after leaving the EU. I will be setting out our plan to shape the economy for the future and triggering the start of our infrastructure revolution”.

The announcement raises a variety of issues:

  • The timing assumes that the Government will survive until 6 November, which is by no means certain. It looks a given that today’s Queen’s Speech will not gain a majority in parliament, which could trigger a no confidence vote.
  • It is not yet clear whether there will be a deal on Brexit. The chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has already explained in a letter to the Treasury Select Committee that the OBR does not have the resources to produce two versions of the Economic and Financial Outlook, one based on a deal and the other on no deal. As Robert Chote, (Chair of the OBR) said:

“We would need to know at the beginning of the process whether [the Government] intended to design the policy package for a ‘deal’ or ‘no deal Brexit to help us decide on what basis we should produce the underlying pre-measures forecast”.

The Treasury’s press release says:

“The Government is committed to securing a deal and leaving on 31st October. In the event of no deal, the Government would act quickly to outline our approach and take early action to support the economy, businesses and households. This would be followed by a Budget in the weeks thereafter.”

That wording hints at a Budget later than 6 November if:

  • Halloween arrives without a deal; and
  • The Government circumvents the Benn Act (“Surrender Act” in BoJospeak) which mandates the Prime Minister to request another Article 50 extension.
  • Just as the Government lacks a majority to pass a Queen’s Speech, so it also looks extremely unlikely it could pass any Budget Resolutions, yet alone a Finance Bill, which must receive a second reading within 30 days of the Budget Resolutions being passed.

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