Is austerity really over as Philip Hammond told the House of Commons yesterday?
As Chancellor Philip Hammond stood before a packed House of commons yesterday to deliver his final Budget before Britain leaves the EU in five months time, it appears that the Conservatives have indeed located the fabled Magic Money Tree.
Announcing over £100 billion spending over the next six years, this was a budget that signalled what Teresa May told Tory conference last month – an end to austerity.
There were certainly some vote winners: Bringing the increase in taxable allowances to £12,500 forward by one year to April 2019; extending stamp duty allowances to first-time buyers and injecting around £80 billion into the NHS over the next six years.
But there was some controversial measures too: a special Brexit-themed 50p piece, a one-off £400 million "bonus" to help schools "buy the little extras they need", and £400 million to councils to fix potholes.
Hammond also announced that the Spending Review due in April may be upgraded to a full budget depending on the outcome of negotiations to leave the EU. Despite Theresa May's insistence that the budget is fully costed, Labour hit back saying there would be tax rises and austerity was far from over with more cuts to services and welfare coming.
In the event of a no-deal Brexit this budget goes out of the window and will require a complete redraft. And a General Election - the second within two years - or a second Referendum are both options on the table that are looking increasingly likely.
Whether or not the budget giveaways could win the day for the Tories is yet to be seen.