UK will not 'slink off like a wounded animal' but will fight for better EU deal as Chancellor prepares first post-Brexit Budget

Kate McCann
Philip Hammond - This content is subject to copyright.

Philip Hammond has vowed Britain will not "slink off like a wounded animal" if the country does not secure a deal with the EU post-Brexit but will instead "fight back" and do whatever it takes to compete on the global stage. 

The Chancellor praised the country's "fighting spirit" as he pledged to ensure the UK has enough "gas in the tank" to weather any storms which may hit as a result of leaving the union over the next few years.

And he also appeared to end speculation that he will trigger a spending spree in the Budget this week telling the BBC's Andrew Marr that Britain still spends more than the defence and aid budgets combined on servicing existing debt. 

"If your bank increases your credit card limit I don't think you would expect to go out and spend every penny of it immediately", he said. 

Mr Hammond also said he would not publish his tax return if asked, criticising "demonstration politics" of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell after Labour called on those earning over a million pounds to make their tax affairs public. 

He said forcing people to do so would "drive away talent and investors" from the UK. 

What if we don't get a trade deal with the EU? "We will fight back and forge new trade deals around the world" says @PHammondMP#marrpic.twitter.com/ntrF9TOD8n

— The Andrew Marr Show (@MarrShow) March 5, 2017

Social care

Mr Hammond said the Government has recognised the pressure on public services across the UK, particularly on social care services and hinted that there could be extra money for those areas that are struggling the most in his Budget. 

But he also made clear that the problem "isn't just about money" and repeated the line Theresa May has frequently used that some areas have tackled the problem of delayed discharge from hospital which slows the system down, whereas others haven't.

In numbers | The NHS budget

He said: "We recognise our public services are under pressure to deliver the efficiency programme we have set out".

But he added: "This isn't just about money.

"There is a case for taking a longer term view of how we fund a service which is intrinsically linked to the demographics of the population

"There's a very good case for taking a strategic look in the round at how we deal with this problem in the longer term.

"I think that is a separate issue from dealing with the short term disparity between areas that are coping very well and areas that are struggling, I think we have to look at what the difficulties are there."

Delays in transfers of care due to social care

The focus of the Budget

The Chancellor spoke of the importance of tackling productivity and skills training in the Budget and played down the idea that there would be giveaways and exciting new policies. 

He said he has two agendas, to build an economy that works for everyone and to focus on the country's global future after Brexit. 

Training and upskilling is a "priority" he said. 

Philip Hammond - Credit: Reuters

Asked about the extra money Mr Hammond is reportedly sitting on after tax receipts were better than expected he said: "It's not money in the wallet because we're borrowing an awful lot of money.

"We're spending over £50bn a year just on servicing the interest on our debt."

He added that his job is to ensure that there are "reserves in the tank" and told the BBC's Andrew Marr he will instead ensure that "we've got enough gas in the tank to see us through that journey ...that seems like a sensible approach."

Brexit bill

Mr Hammond said the UK would honour any obligations it has post-Brexit but he also warned the country will not "slink off" if a deal is not secured. 

He threw his weight firmly behind Theresa May's line that no deal is better than a bad deal and warned the UK has a "fighting spirit" and would do whatever it takes to remain competitive. 

Asked about a possible Brexit bill he said: "We're about to enter into a negotiation, very often when you're about to start a negotiation with people they set out very large demands and very stark positions ahead of that.

EU flag - Credit: Alamy

"The PM has been clear we are a nation that honours our obligations and if we do have any bills that fall to be paid we will obviously deal with them."

He added: "If there's anybody in the EU who thinks that if we don't do a deal with the EU, if we don't continue to work closely together Britain will slink off as a wounded animal that is not going to happen.

"Britain has a fighting spirit and we will fight back.

"We will do whatever we need to do to make this country competitive." 

 

New 'T Levels'

Hammond will  also unveil “radical” plans to put technical education on an equal footing with academic studie sin the  biggest overhaul of post-16 education in 70 years .

The current system, where students have to pick from 13,000 different qualifications, will be replaced with just 15 standalone courses.

Teenagers who undertake the technical training, such as courses to become an engineer or builder, will spend 50 per cent longer learning than they do now, equalling 900 hours of teaching a year. Click here for the full story.

What else could he say?

Housing

Theresa May, the prime minister, has signalled that the Government will do more to support renters in the latest Budget by building more affordable rental properties.

Previous policies, such as Help to Buy, were focused on supporting home ownership.

Income tax

The personal allowance is due to rise to £11,500 this April, while the higher rate threshold will rise to £45,000. The increases form part of the Government's pledge to raise the personal allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000 by the end of the decade.

Mr Hammond could announce the path of future increases in this Budget.

Income tax

Insurance

Changes to personal injury payouts which would see insurance premiums rise sharply are to be "urgently" reviewed after a backlash from consumers and industry bodies.

The Government is to consult on the changes to the way personal injury compensation is calculated.

The consultation comes after it was warned that the NHS could face a £1 billion bill and car insurance premiums could jump by £1,000 a year for young drivers. 

'Sin' taxes

With rising inflation expected to push up living costs, pub goers will be hoping that Mr Hammond does not raise tax on beer. George Osborne, his predecessor, froze the duty last year.

Check out our article on what is expected in the Budget here.

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