Good morning. After one of the most intense weeks for political news since Rishi Sunak became PM (Suella Braverman being sacked, David Cameron returning, the rest of the reshuffle, and the supreme court’s Rwanda judgment), we’ve got another news-packed five days starting now, mostly focused on the autumn statement on Wednesday. The Guardian doesn’t normally agree with Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg on anything, but the former business secretary has summed up what’s at stake in this quote for the Daily Mail.
We’ve had the net zero relaunch, the party conference relaunch, the King’s Speech relaunch and the reshuffle relaunch, none of which has made a difference to the polls. We now need the autumn statement relaunch which will actually connect with voters.
Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, hinted yesterday that the announcement could include personal tax cuts and there is a lot of speculation in the papers today, particularly the pro-Tory ones, about what this might involve.
Most of the reporting is somewhat speculative, but this morning a junior Treasury minister, Gareth Davies, has been giving interviews and on at least one issue he was able to be categorical.
This morning the Daily Telegraph has a report based on what John Glen told Cambridge University Conservatives at a private meeting last month when he was chief secretary to the Treasury. (He was moved sideways to paymaster general in the Cabinet Office in the reshuffle.) Glen suggested rich pensioners should stop getting the winter fuel allowance. The money would be better spent on addressing child poverty, he said. In his story, Ben Riley-Smith quotes Glen as saying:
I think we also need to come to terms with the fact that the triple lock is very expensive and how sustainable is that going forward in terms of pensions and all the other benefits?
Because my mother, she’s not very rich but she’s perfectly comfortable. She just texted me today aged 75 to say ‘I’ve just heard about my £500 winter fuel payment’ and I’m just like ‘you don’t need that’.
But finding a mechanism to try and ration that [the winter fuel payment] is very difficult because our HMRC system will look at household incomes. These are the sorts of mechanics of government you’ve got to look at.
Is it better if we spent more of that money on child poverty? It probably is. But these are the sorts of things I think we need to look at.
Good idea, you might think. But it is not going to happen. Davies told Sky News this morning:
We are not going to be touching the winter fuel allowance … We will always stand by our pensioners to ensure they have a dignified retirement and security in retirement.
There will be more on the economy because Rishi Sunak is giving a speech on the subject this morning, and taking questions from journalists. I will also be focusing quite a lot on the Covid inquiry where Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s former chief scientific adviser, is giving evidence.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9am: Rishi Sunak speaks at the opening of a global food security summit where he is due to launch the international development white paper.
10.30am: Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s former chief scientific adviser, gives evidence to the Covid inquiry. His evidence is due to last all day.
Mid morning: Sunak gives a speech on the economy and holds a Q&A with journalists.
11.30am: No 10 holds a lobby briefing.
2.30pm: David Cameron is introduced as a peer in the House of Lords.
4.45pm: Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, speaks at the County Councils Network conference.
Also, David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, is on a visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
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