22/11/2017 The Papers


22/11/2017

No need to wait to see what's in the papers - tune in for a lively and informed conversation about the next day's headlines.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to our look ahead

to what the the papers will be

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bringing us tomorrow.

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With me are Caroline Wheeler,

deputy political editor

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at the Sunday Times, and Ben Chu,

economics editor of the Independent.

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Tomorrow's front pages -

starting with...

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The Financial Times leads

with the Chancellor's budget,

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writing that it's been overshadowed

by the biggest downgrade in economic

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growth since the financial crisis.

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The Telegraph headlines

with the budget's abolishing

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of stamp duty for some

first-time buyers.

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The Metro says that Philip Hammond

has tried to help millions get

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onto the housing ladder,

but that experts believe it

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will just raise prices.

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The Express writes that

Number 11 have unveiled

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a £3 billion package for Brexit,

which the paper says,

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shows the UK is ready to leave

the EU without a deal.

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The Times says the Chancellor

has eased off austerity

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with a £25 billion giveaway

to counter political

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and economic pressures.

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The Guardian claims Mr Hammond

is trying to mask Britain's

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deteriorating economic situation

by pledging to revive

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the homeowning dream.

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And the Mail takes back it's

nickname for the Chancellor -

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Eeyore - which he was given

for his gloomy outlook on Brexit.

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They have all taken slightly

different takes. Let's start with

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the Financial Times. A grim outlook

overshadows housing drive. That kind

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of sums up the budget. Some positive

headlines for some people, but

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things not looking too good on the

economic front. That's right, and

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that's happened with a few

announcements and economic words,

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where he basically described the

fact that the growth forecast had

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been slashed on the run-up to this

spending review period, which gave

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him less wiggle room to do

interesting things with. When we

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started this budget cycle, it always

begins after party conference

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season. The initial trajectory was

that this would be a big, bold, make

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or break budget for the Chancellor,

a career show stopping budget. The

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fact that these forecasts came out

at the same time meant he had

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limited ability to make

announcements, and that set the tone

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for the budget, which is why he got

that out the way to begin with as

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almost a warning shot to MPs. Saying

that the economy is not doing as

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well as expected, so downgrade your

expectation a bit.

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The Telegraph has an awful lot on

the budget on its front page.

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Outlook gloomy, but there to be

proved wrong. It is relatively early

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days for Theresa May, but not for

the Conservative government. They

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will have wanted better headlines

about the economy.

Of course.

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Hammond came in saying, I'm really

up beat and positive about Brexit,

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trying to throw off this Eeyore name

that he's been given for being too

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gloomy and downbeat. Then he had to

present this catastrophically bad

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growth forecast. These are the worst

five-year growth forecast ever

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produced by the OBR since it was set

up. Never have they had growth

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forecast lower than 2%. This is the

worst of any of the Treasury

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forecasts as well.

What is causing

it?

Interestingly, everyone is

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implying it's about Brexit. But it

isn't. The OBR has decided that our

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productivity and growth potential is

weaker than had been thought. Since

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the financial crisis, it was assumed

that our growth would bounce back to

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2.5%, but that hasn't happened.

That's why the growth forecast is

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bad and borrowing is up, and why the

outlook is bleak.

Let's look at some

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of the positives. A helping hand for

first-time buyers, but even then,

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experts are saying, it's not as good

as you think.

Another surprising

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thing about the budget, other the

fact that Philip Hammond cracked a

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few jokes, such as saying that he'd

asked the Prime Minister to bring

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him some cough sweets.

He looked

really happy about that.

He did. The

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stamp duty announcement was one of

those that had been widely rumoured

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that it might come about. This is to

help first-time buyers. There's been

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a feeling within the political

movement, particularly since Jeremy

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Corbyn started making key

announcements around younger voters,

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that the Conservatives were not

doing enough to support younger

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voters, and that there was a

intergenerational unfairness,

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particularly around housing. This

was their way of trying to help them

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to do this, reducing the amount of

tax they pay when buying their first

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property up to £300,000, and

reducing the amount they pay on

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homes up to £500,000. But the OBR

immediately poured a little bit of

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cold water on it, saying it would

only help 3500 people, and that it

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would push up house prices and was

one of these things that was

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potentially open to misuse by people

pretending to be first-time buyers,

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suggesting that the only thing that

would stop them is the fact they

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would have to lie to their

solicitors.

And there is the

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overwhelming task of saving up for a

deposit in the first place. The

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cartoon on the front page of the

Telegraph sums it up. House prices

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go up because demand goes up. Estate

agents saying, no more than two

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young people at any time.

If you are

stoking up demand, you are feeding

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the problem rather than solving it.

The solution lies in more supply.

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The trouble with the stamp duty cut

is that it pushes up prices, and it

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isn't dealing with the supply issue.

It is just helping a fuel lucky

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people who will benefit, but doesn't

address the problem. We have seen

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headlines about £44 billion for

housing. That is not government

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cash. It is slightly obscure

guarantees. It is a big number and

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it's not surprising the Treasury

want to push that out there. But we

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don't know how many homes will

actually be built.

The Times says

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that Hammond eases off austerity.

Really?

They are making a lot of the

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idea that he has this £25 billion

giveaway. But there are smoke and

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mirrors here, particularly with

housing, the possibility that savvy

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Javed was pushing, this £50 billion

for the government to invest in a

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house building scheme. Actually what

we got was a £50 billion

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announcement that wasn't actually

government money. It falls a long

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way short of what had been asked for

per year. It is kind of smoke and

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mirrors.

It has been described as

Hammond's hard hat budget. There is

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an image of a concrete mixer there.

It was a tough budget for him as

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well as for everyone else that it

affects. He didn't have a lot to

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play with.

He didn't. Very high

personal stake for him, because

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after his last budget in March, he

put up national insurance on the

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self employed, and Downing Street

basically told him to undo it, which

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was a humiliating reversal. He had

to get this one right. That's why he

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was so cautious. We knew stamp duty

was coming, so there was nothing

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surprising in it. Apparently, he had

been running it passed a lot of Tory

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MPs to make sure there was nothing

they could complain about. He played

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it very safe.

Some papers saying

that this budget tells us about the

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Brexit plans. UK faces worst decade

of economic growth in 60 years. The

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deficit will not be wiped out until

at least 2031, and we have to get to

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the other side of Brexit.

The

interesting thing is that it doesn't

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factor in Brexit really. The OBR was

pointing towards her Florence

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speech, which indicated a divorce

bill of about £20 billion. Other

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indications show that it could be

more than twice that. That hasn't

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been factored into these figures,

neither has what we get from these

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negotiations. Transition has not

been pinned down, and that could

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really impact businesses if we don't

get that pin down before the end of

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the next quarter.

The Daily Express

describes it as £3 billion to speed

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up the EU exit. Showing that the

government, it says, is willing to

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have no deal.

I think it will add up

to more than that. There was this

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debate between Hammond and the rest

of the Cabinet as to whether he

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should put more money aside to deal

with Brexit. They are spinning it as

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good for Brexit, because it shows we

have this money to spend. £3 billion

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is not going to cut it and it smacks

of a massive compromise.

It shows

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that Downing Street have won out. A

month ago he was saying that it was

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irresponsible to open up the cough

and spend money on Brexit.

Let's

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have a look at Buzzfeed. They always

have a slightly different take. They

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are very close to the ground. They

are taking the line that it is going

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to cut down on tax dodging by

Internet companies. That is

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something that a lot of people get

angry about.

And fair enough, it is

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profit shifting. They don't pay

corporation tax because they

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artificially shift their profits out

of the UK.

That didn't grab many

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headlines.

That's because they've

been hammering away at this issue

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for a while. Hammond is trying to

tighten up existing measures

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further. This is also about VAT,

which is another tech element of it.

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These platforms where people are not

paying VAT they are trying to bring

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that into line. It is essentially

digital companies which are avoiding

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tax.

Caroline, with all of your

connections at Number 10, you can

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describe what's going on in the

Daily Mail.

It's an interesting one.

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The idea that he is no longer this

Eeyore. That was his nickname

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because he was always so pessimistic

about everything. Despite everything

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we have heard about the growth

forecasts, the Daily Mail has

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decided to go on a more optimistic

picture of the budget, talking about

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the help for first-time buyers,

which says more about the

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positioning of the Daily Mail than

anything else. A lot of papers have

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been critical of the Chancellor, who

was a remain voting minister.

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Hammond has got a kicking from that

particular camp, so the fact they

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have come out in favour of him shows

he is in the Prime Minister's good

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books at the moment.

Caroline, Ben,

thank you for taking us through the

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front pages.

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Don't forget you can see the front

pages of the papers online

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on the BBC News website.

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It's all there for you - seven days

a week at bbc.co.uk/papers.

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If you miss the programme any

evening, you can watch it

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later on BBC iPlayer.

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Thank you to my guests,

Caroline Wheeler and Ben Chu.

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