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Rishi Sunak has set out his plans for a “new economy” – although much of what was in the Budget was familiar to anyone who had read a newspaper, skimmed social media or listened to a radio bulletin over the past week.
Here are some things we learned:
– Sir Keir Starmer was forced into self-isolation.
The Labour leader tested positive for Covid-19, meaning late replacements had to be found for Prime Minister’s Questions and the Budget response.
Never has a Chancellor asked British people to pay so much for so little - loading them with tax rises while wasting £billions of taxpayer money.
Labour would tax fairly, spend wisely and after a decade of anaemic growth, get our economy firing on all cylinders. #Budget2021 pic.twitter.com/yuTyqO0WEW
— Rachel Reeves (@RachelReevesMP) October 27, 2021
Former leader Ed Miliband stood in to take on Boris Johnson, while shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves took on the job of replying to the Budget, normally one of the toughest tasks facing an Opposition leader.
– The Chancellor was given a dressing down.
Deputy Commons Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing, who by tradition chairs the Budget session, set out her displeasure at how much of the Chancellor’s statement had already been made public.
In response to the many questions I've received about the pre-briefing of #Budget2021 this is what I have to say on the matter. I'll reiterate this again before the Chancellor of the Exchequer, @RishiSunak, addresses the @HouseofCommons after #PMQs. pic.twitter.com/46K7iHxS6r
— Dame Eleanor Laing MP (@eleanor4epping) October 27, 2021
She said it was a matter of “courtesy to this House” and she hopes “we do not find ourselves in this position again at future Budgets”.
– The people’s flag is deepest red.
Mr Sunak managed to both bolster Brexit-supporting Tories and poke fun at the Labour left as he set out new shipping measures.
The Chancellor, who announced plans to increase the number of vessels sailing under the red ensign, said: “I’m sure the Opposition will be delighted that red flags are still flying somewhere in this country, even if they are all at sea.”
– A historic Budget.
“The Chancellor has raised taxes by more this year than in any single year since Norman Lamont and Ken Clarke’s two 1993 Budgets in the aftermath of Black Wednesday,” according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.
The combination of stronger growth and temporary higher inflation, plus 3 big tax rises introduced in the last two Budgets give the Chancellor an extra £50bn in revenue & push the tax burden up to its highest since the early 1950s. #Budget2021 pic.twitter.com/Hh5jqK12YF
— Office for Budget Responsibility (@OBR_UK) October 27, 2021
But you have to look even further back to find a time when the overall tax burden was so high. According to the watchdog, the 36.2% of the economy it will reach in 2026-27 is the “highest level since late in Clement Attlee’s post-war Labour government in the early 1950s”.
– Let’s raise a glass to that.
Mr Sunak, a teetotaller more partial to a can of Coke than a flute of Moet, promised to cut tax on bubbly as part of a wider shake-up of alcohol duties.
“Over the last decade, consumption of sparkling wines like prosecco has doubled. English sparkling wine alone has increased almost tenfold,” he said.
“It’s clear they are no longer the preserve of wealthy elites.”