Tuesday, 04 September 2018 16:57



The SNP has warned the Chancellor not to “rashly” bring forward his budget statement for party political reasons, following reports that the UK government is preparing to rush ahead with the plans to avoid a clash with its Brexit negotiations.

The Times reported today that Philip Hammond has informed officials to speed up preparations in order to deliver the budget as early as next month – before the details of any Brexit deal is made clear.

SNP MP Stewart Hosie, a member of the Treasury Select Committee, raised the issue with the Governor of the Bank of England at an evidence session of the committee this afternoon.

The MP warned that such a move would “put party interests ahead of the country’s interests,” and would be “economically illogical,” given the outcome of the Brexit negotiations will still not have been made clear.

With the UK government ramping up rhetoric of a no-deal outcome, the Bank of England’s Governor and its chief economist told the committee that a no-deal Brexit will result in a rise in prices in shops, and a squeeze on living standards.

Mark Carney, the bank’s governor, warned that it is “likely that the real income squeeze will return for households across the country,” in the event of a no-deal scenario.

The bank’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, added that a no-deal Brexit would result in a “material rise in the costs of things in the shops; particularly those things that are imported from overseas as a result of a weaker pound and higher tariffs on those goods.”

SNP MP Stewart Hosie – who sits on the Treasury Select Committee – commented:

“It is worrying to read reports that the Chancellor is willing to put the interests of the Tory party ahead of the economic interests of the UK, with plans to rashly rush ahead to bring forward the budget in order to avoid clashing with the government's shambolic and stumbling Brexit talks.

“It would be economically illogical for the UK government to set out its plans for spending, future growth and borrowing without even having concluded any details of a Brexit deal.

“What the Chancellor must do instead is ensure that the warnings raised today by the Bank of England’s governor and its chief economist do not fall on deaf ears within Whitehall. A rise in prices in shops and a squeeze on living standards for families is not a price people should pay for the ideological pursuits of the Tory party.

“The UK government’s very own analysis suggests a hard Brexit would hit Scottish GDP by up to 9% - costing Scotland around £12.7billion a year, the equivalent of £2,300 per person, and putting around 80,000 jobs on the line.

“Time is fast running out, and with only a matter of months left before the UK’s self-imposed exit date, the UK government must urgently change course and ditch its damaging hard Brexit plans, and commit to continued membership of the single market and customs union."

Early budget to sidestep clash with Brexit talks: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/early-budget-to-sidestep-clash-with-brexit-talks-qsm3smnxh

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