Not since Denis Healey in 1974 has a chancellor had so little time to prepare for a budget. With just four weeks in his new role – only a week more than Healey had to prepare – Rishi Sunak had been expected to deliver one of the most important budgets since the financial crisis. Here at last was a Conservative majority, the biggest since Margaret Thatcher in 1987, affording him the space to define Boris Johnson’s brand of Toryism. Not for the first time, the Treasury’s freedom will be distinctly limited. Faced with the unfolding economic crisis from the coronavirus, the new chancellor has been forced to rip up his plans and start again. For now, the flagship budget once envisaged must wait. Reassurance over ideology is needed. Yet Sunak’s big challenge will be to shore up confidence at the same time as providing some clues about the identity of Johnson’s government. A series of emergency spending measures to support households and businesses are expected. But such is the weight of expectation after vast election promises that a boom in transport spending, plans to “level up” the regional imbalances of Britain and funding to tackle the climate emergency are required…. Read full this story
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