Fifty-four years to the day after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Chancellor Philip Hammond presented his first Autumn Budget to a country still reeling from the uncertainties generated by the shock result in last year’s Brexit referendum, continuing to struggle with the burden of a vast national deficit, and truly sick and tired of austerity.
Perhaps it was appropriate that such a Budget should be presented on a wet grey autumn day rather than in the spring sunshine which many of his predecessors had enjoyed. There wasn’t likely to be much good news for anyone unless he had a few trick shots in his armoury.
On a personal level, Hammond’s credibility was hanging on the line after his farcical U-turn over Class 4 National Insurance following the March Budget. Whatever he said was going to have to stick, or it wouldn’t take an assassin to remove him from office.
Before his speech, the news was filled with stories about investment in housing, but who was going to pay for it? We all know that the cupboard is truly bare and the country has a big divorce bill to pay soon. Some of us feared the possibility of yet more vicious persecution of landlords and the private rented sector. Destroying private investment in housing to pay for public investment hardly seems logical, but we are dealing with politicians here, so who knows?