Kwasi Budget delivered; constitutional review leaked; NEC member suspended

Elliot Chappell
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Kwasi Kwarteng has just delivered his definitely-not-a-Budget statement. The Chancellor confirmed this morning that the energy price cap freeze will be paid for by borrowing – rather than taking the funds from the unexpected, excess profits of oil and gas companies. He also said the cap on bankers’ bonuses will be lifted, promised new low-tax zone, scrapped the planned rise in corporation tax, pledged to reverse the National Insurance contributions increase from November and said the highest rate of income tax – the 45% rate for earnings over £150,000 – will be abolished altogether and the basic rate cut to 19% from next April.

As Rachel Reeves explained, the government’s plan is “based on an outdated ideology that says if we simply reward those who are already wealthy, the whole of society will benefit”. She added: “They’ve decided to replace levelling up with trickle down.” She criticised Kwarteng for refusing to have an independent economic forecast published to show the impact of the government’s plan. “It is a Budget with figures, a menu without prices,” she said. “What has the Chancellor got to hide?” Labour’s attack is two-pronged: 1) the government’s priorities are wrongly placed firmly behind the wealthy; and 2) the Tories are incompetent and not to be trusted on the economy.

Elsewhere – Gordon Brown’s constitutional review has been leaked. According to The Guardian, the former Prime Minister recommends abolishing the House of Lords and replacing it with an upper chamber of nations and regions, devolving new economic powers including over taxation, giving a constitutional guarantee of social and economic rights, banning most second jobs for MPs, establishing a new code of conduct to replace the ministerial code and giving the electoral commission the power to hand out larger fines.

Several shadow cabinet members have expressed scepticism and a Labour spokesperson told The Guardian: “This refers to one of several early drafts. The commission has yet to take a view on all these issues.” Of course, this all comes a bit late to be agreed in time for Labour’s conference, which is starting this weekend, and is scheduled for a big launch later in the year. But, as Labour heads to Liverpool for its annual gathering, the spotlight is now on the party and its vision. This review is an important part of how Labour could deliver a new democratic framework for the country.

In internal Labour news, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi has been suspended. The newly elected member of the national executive committee (NEC) revealed yesterday afternoon that she had received a ‘notice of allegation and administrative suspension’. Wimborne-Idrissi was told that she had “committed a prohibited act” contrary to Labour’s rulebook by speaking at an event hosted in September by a group proscribed by the party. It is thought the group in question is Resist, which the NEC agreed to proscribe in July last year. Her suspension means that she is not allowed to attend meetings of the NEC, including the annual general meeting (AGM) of the committee due to take place in Liverpool next week.

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