Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond announced a giveaway Budget that was designed to double down on the Prime Minister’s assertion that ‘austerity is over’, and seek to show that this was more than just warm words. He was, however, perhaps more careful with his choice of words, noting that it was merely, ‘coming to an end’.
Ahead of this Budget the Chancellor faced a major dilemma: how to show that the Conservative Party cares about the electorate, without undermining the reputation they have built for economic discipline and effectively managing the public finances. The Conservative narrative since before 2010 has been that austerity is both necessary and essential, and that the Labour Party cannot be trusted with the economy. The Chancellor has been keen to protect this hard-won reputation and to avoid the Conservative Party being drawn into a spending battle with Labour which they have no chance of winning, while at the same time spending in some key areas.