Spring Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:17 pm on 13th March 2019.

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Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond The Chancellor of the Exchequer 1:17 pm, 13th March 2019

My right hon. Friend is right, of course, about the OBR’s Brexit assumption—I said so earlier and the OBR has said so clearly. It has to make an assumption, and until there is a new policy, that is unfortunately the way it is mandated to work. On the forecast, I have addressed this in this House many times before. The forecast is based on those assumptions. We are either going to have a no-deal exit, in which case I would expect a significantly worse outturn, or we are going to lift this cloud from above our economy, in which case I would expect a significantly better outcome. A number of important commentators, including the Governor of the Bank of England, have suggested over the past couple of weeks that there is more juice in the economy if we can just lift this cloud.

I have noted my right hon. Friend’s early bid for further education in the spending review. There will be lots to discuss as we go into the spending review, and we will ensure that there are proper, structured arrangements for Members of this House to make their views known. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary will be happy to engage across the House.

My right hon. Friend asked about the target for the mid-2020s. I simply do not accept that the figures published today show that it is impossible to reach a balanced budget in the mid-2020s. In 2023-24, the deficit will be 0.5% of GDP, but whether we choose to get the deficit down to zero or choose to do other things is a choice, and we are lucky to have it.