Spring Statement 2018 – LIVE: Philip Hammond to promise 'light at end of tunnel' after years of austerity


Chancellor Philip Hammond will tell voters there is a “light at the end of the tunnel” after years of austerity in his first ever Spring Statement. 

In a short speech that has been stripped of tax and spending measures, Mr Hammond will set out the UK’s economic position to MPs against an expected drop in borrowing, higher-than-predicted GDP growth and the recent elimination of the deficit on day-to-day spending, 

Meanwhile, Russia has hit back at Theresa May after she issued an ultimatum to Vladimir Putin over the use of a deadly Russian nerve agent against an ex-spy and his daughter.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the British government had refused to provide Moscow with access to materials related to the substance used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury last weekend.

And in Brussels, MEPs said the Prime Minister has not provided enough clarity on Brexit ahead of a crunch vote to decide the EU’s Brexit vision.

See below for live updates

Live Updates

2 mins ago

Theresa May told the Cabinet that there was “no doubt of the severity of what had taken place in Salisbury, which was a reckless, indiscriminate and despicable act”.

Ms May confirmed that she will chair a meeting of the National Security Council on Wednesday to discuss the Russian response and will then inform the House of Commons of any measures to be taken.

Responding to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s complaint that the UK had not provided samples of the nerve agent involved in the Salisbury incident, the PM’s official spokesman said: “The UK complies fully with all its obligations under the chemical weapons convention.

“Under the chemical weapons convention states have the mechanism to consult, but there is no requirement to do so.”

21 mins ago

Chancellor Philip Hammond is set to offer voters a glimmer of light as he delivers his first spring statement against a slew of positive economic indicators.

With an expected drop in borrowing, higher-than-predicted GDP growth of 1.7% for 2017 and the recent elimination of the Government’s deficit on day-to-day spending, Mr Hammond is expected to tell MPs that the UK is reaping the reward for years of austerity.

But all eyes will be on the Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecasts for the deficit, debt, GDP and productivity, to see whether they back up the Chancellor’s claim that there is now “light at the end of the tunnel”.

43 mins ago

A man has been taken to hospital as a precaution as police investigate two suspicious items found on the parliamentary estate.
It comes less than 24 hours after two were taken to hospital in a separate situation involving suspicious items found in Parliament. 
Latest here:

50 mins ago

A Labour MP has suggested delaying or even moving the World Cup from Russia after the poisoning of an ex-spy and his daughter on British soil.
Stephen Kinnock said the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal – which Theresa May said was ‘highly likely’ to be linked to Russia – had crossed the line and the contest should be moved.

The Aberavon MP told the Good Morning Wales programme: “I have to say whilst I think this may well sound really quite unrealistic, I think it would be much better to have a co-ordinated action with FIFA, looking even at the possibility of delaying the world cup and having it in a different country.

“I know that might sound like a highly unlikely thing to achieve because FIFA is not a political organisation, but this just crosses the line.

“What the Russians have done here is completely unacceptable – do we really think that just in a few months we will almost be vindicating the way that they behave by having a celebration of football, and the beautiful game, in their country?

“I think all options need to be all on the table.”

1 hour ago

The Brexit transition period in which Britain’s relationship with the EU does not change should extend beyond the next UK general election so that “we can see what the outcome” of the vote is, a key figure in talks has said. 
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1 hour ago

The Major of London read out racist abuse he receives online and he wants social media companies to do more to combat hate speech.
Speaking at the South by Southwest festival in Texas, he read out vicious messages sent to him on Twitter, several of which threatened his life and were Islamophobic in nature.

1 hour ago


The world economy will expand at its fastest pace since 2011 this year, but the UK will continue to lag, according to the latest forecasts from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).
The Paris-based intergovernmental group said on Tuesday that it now anticipates the global economy to grow by 3.9 per cent both this year and next, from a previous forecast of 3.6 per cent for both years.
​Story here:

1 hour ago

Here’s the latest on the discovery of a suspicious package in Parliament – the second incident in as many days.
More here:

1 hour ago

This is the second incident in two days, after a suspicious package was delivered to Parliament yesterday.
Here’s our story from yesterday:

1 hour ago

Police are investigating a second “suspicious substance”, which has been found in Parliament.
A Parliamentary spokesman said: “We are aware of a potential situation involving a suspicious substance which the Met Police are investigating. We cannot provide any more details at this stage.”

1 hour ago

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Russia will only cooperate with Britain on the investigation into last week’s poisoning of an ex-Russian spy if it receives samples of the nerve agent that is believed to have sickened the ex-spy and his daughter. 

Lavrov told reporters that Moscow’s requests to see samples of the nerve agent have been turned down, which he called a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which outlaws the production of chemical weapons. He insisted that Russia is “not to blame” for the poisoning. 

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter had been poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed in the Soviet Union. May said Russia has until the end of Tuesday to explain how the substance ended up in Britain. 

Lavrov said on Tuesday Moscow is willing to cooperate with the probe but suggested that London would be “better off” complying with its international obligations “before putting forward ultimatums.” 

2 hours ago

Latest here on Russia’s response to the PM’s words.

2 hours ago

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said the Kremlin has demanded access to samples of the nerve agent used to poison ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia so it can carry out checks.
However he claims the UK Government has denied Russia access to materials in the Skripal case, according to Reuters.

2 hours ago
2 hours ago

Strikes by university staff could be called off this week after employers and union bosses appeared to reach an agreement over a bitter pensions dispute that has disrupted campuses across the country.
The University and College Union (UCU) agreed on an interim solution with Universities UK (UUK) on Monday after six days of talks through the conciliation service Acas.
​Story here:

2 hours ago
2 hours ago

Brexit preparations have cost at least £400m in the current financial year, with the bill estimated to reach £2bn by Brexit day in March 2019, according to new research.

The report by the Institute for Government (IfG) into Whitehall spending claims that after strict controls on departmental budgets, Philip Hammond is “loosening his purse strings”.

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3 hours ago

Russia has so far been thoroughly unimpressed by Theresa May’s comments on the Salisbury spy attack. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has tweeted this video, mocking Britain by claiming it would also blame Russia for the recent snow.

3 hours ago

David Miliband has criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s Commons response to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, saying he should be “standing up for British citizens”.
The Labour leader “sounded like President Trump” in calling for dialogue with Vladimir Putin when the Russian double agent and his daughter had been left in “mortal danger” by the nerve-agent attack, he warned.​
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3 hours ago

Over in Brussels, the EU has warned Theresa May that she still has not provided enough clarity on what sort of relationship she wants with the EU after Brexit despite her latest Mansion House speech earlier this month.
​Story here:

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