Connect with us

News

Labour accuses Sunak of ‘smoke and mirrors’ budget due to lack of new money

budget

Labour accuses Sunak of ‘smoke and mirrors’ budget due to lack of new money

Labour has accused Rishi Sunak of presiding over a “smoke and mirrors” budget after he conceded that just 20% of his biggest single spending commitment unveiled before the speech is made up of new money.

The Treasury has committed to almost £26bn of spending in a rush of announcements before Wednesday’s budget and spending review. It is expected to contain no tax cuts and the chancellor has sought to reassure anxious Tory MPs that he is a fiscal Thatcherite at heart.

Following months of general equanimity among parliamentary colleagues and the public as Sunak spent billions on Covid relief, he faces a hugely tricky budget, trying to balance the worries of Tory MPs about what they see as an increasingly high-tax, high-spend government, and demands for new infrastructure.

On Sunday, Sunak conceded that of £7bn to be pledged in the budget for what could be the flagship announcement, part of the so-called levelling up agenda, just £1.5bn is actually new money.

Challenged on Sky News about the makeup of the money committed for rail, tram and bus projects outside London, Sunak accepted that most of it had already been announced, with the main news on Wednesday being where it will be spent.

Sunak said he had already announced £4.2bn for the “overall envelope for improving how people get around our big cities”, adding: “What we’ve actually done is top that up, as you said, by £1.5bn, but then crucially give out the allocations in that envelope – where all the bits are going to go.”

Of a dozen Treasury trails for budget commitments, several others are not fully new spending, or involve money used to replace earlier commitments. For example, of money announced to assist crime victims, including victims of domestic and sexual assault, just 40% is new. For a new safer streets fund, two-thirds is new. Other announcements cover the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which replaces funding from the EU.

Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow chancellor, said: “We’ve seen a weekend full of Treasury smoke and mirrors ahead of the budget – with a government that would rather re-announce plans than get the work done.”

The commitments already made by Sunak even before Wednesday are nonetheless extensive, including an extra near-£6bn for NHS catch-up and diagnostics, and £5bn for genomic health research, £3bn on skills, and £850m for museums and galleries.

Another £500m will be spent on families an early years programmes, including for family support programmes, and on so-called family hubs, a scheme reminiscent of Labour’s sure start centres, a programme decimated by austerity since 2010.

Sunak argued that in spending on families and early intervention he was not accepting that cutting Sure Start had been a mistake, arguing that work done more recently by Tory colleagues such as former business secretary Andrea Leadsom had only now demonstrated the need for such policies.

“What they show very clearly, as the evidence does, is the very early years in young families’ lives are critical and that’s where parents often struggle and that’s where actually we need to provide a little bit more attention,” Sunak told Sky.

In response, Reeves said Sunak was proposing a “pale imitation that doesn’t even take us back to where we were in 2010”.

She said: “It’s all well and good saying we’re going to invest in these family parks, but thousands of children’s centres and Sure Start centres that were proud features of our communities, particularly of our poorer communities, have long gone.”

In another interview, with the BBC, Sunak rejected a call from Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United striker and anti-poverty campaigner, to extend free school meal programmes into the school holidays for the next three years.

Sunak said that as with the furlough scheme, while such programmes were necessary during lockdown, “it’s right that we’ve transitioned to a more normal way of doing things”.

Sunak also confirmed that on Wednesday he will unveil the results of a review into business rates – but gave no sign that this could lead to a reduction in the levy. Business groups and many Tory MPs have called for a cut to boost high streets, but the Treasury appears resistant.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, former minister David Davis castigated Sunak for his approach to taxation, and called into doubt the chancellor’s allegiance to the fiscal ideas of Margaret Thatcher.

“I knew Margaret Thatcher, so I will watch with interest whether he can match the brilliance that Thatcher, and her great Chancellor Nigel Lawson brought to government,” Davis wrote.

“Sadly, every indication so far is that his current course will take us on to the rocks – not away from them.”

Challenged about his policies on Sky, Sunak insisted he still stood for low-tax Conservatism: “Of course I do stand for that, and that’s what I would want to deliver, and that’s what my instincts are. But you also have to take a step back and think, what have I and the government had to grapple with over the past year and a half? We’ve had the biggest economic shock that we’ve experienced in 300 years.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

Military destroys illegal refining sites in Rivers

The air component of Nigeria’s military special taskforce, “Operation Delta Safe’’ bombarded several illegal oil refining sites and other bases of economic saboteurs in Rivers on Friday and Saturday.

Director, Public Relations and Information at the Nigerian Air Force, AVM Edward Gabkwet, stated on Sunday in Abuja that the air strikes diminished the capabilities of oil thieves significantly.

He assured that the strikes ensured that economic saboteurs would no longer be able to burst pipelines to steal crude oil.

Gabkwet stated that an illegal refining site was destroyed at Idama community and four boats which reconnaissance found to have been loaded with illegally-refined products were equally destroyed.

“Similar reconnaissance missions were conducted over Ogbomkiri community where an active illegal refining site was identified and destroyed.

“Reconnaissance over the Arugbana community showed that oil thieves were trying to set up an illegal refining site and, on sighting the approaching aircraft, they scampered to safety.

Several illegal sites were also observed at Samkiri community and were engaged and destroyed.

“In all, about seven illegal refining sites and four boats were discovered and destroyed in the two-day operation,’’ Gabkwet added.

 

Continue Reading

News

Aiyedatiwa stops pastors from wearing cassock, appoints self general overseer

Nebuchadnezzar, infamous figure immortalized in the Bible, commands recognition as the Babylonian monarch whose relentless conquests laid waste to the temple of Jerusalem, seizing its sacred relics as spoils of war.

Nebuchadnezzar dreams of a great tree that shelters the whole world. But an angelic “watcher” appears and decrees that the tree must be cut down and that for seven years, he will have his human mind taken away and will eat grass like an ox.

The holy Bible generously describes and expounds a Chapel or Temple as the hallowed sanctuary of the Almighty. It is reserved for the reverential observance of sacred rites and solemn covenants deemed too divine for mundane settings. In all Chapels or Temples all over the world, these consecrated edifices are sanctuaries apart, shielded from the profane clamor of the secular world.

But an archetype of Nebuchadnezzar may have surreptitiously crept into Ondo without anyone noticing. While asking questions on what motivated the biblical Nebuchadnezzar to desecrate the holy Chapel or Temple of God, we are compelled to confront the actions of His Excellency (Hon.) Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa vis-à-vis the recent happenings inside the Government House Chapel.

In a bold and audacious move that is only comparable to that of Nebuchadnezzar, Governor Aiyedatiwa decreed that ordained priests, including Rev. Babalola of the Anglican Communion and Canon Enoch Adeleke of the Methodist Church, discard their traditional vestments, known as Casoc, in favor of resplendent native attire—Agbada & Sokoto—during sacred ceremonies.

This sweeping directive challenges the entrenched doctrines upheld by Orthodox Churches, igniting a maelstrom of doubt and apprehension. Many ponder whether this decree signals a bid to sideline and subjugate Christians within the precincts of the Ondo State Government House, potentially paving the way for the infiltration of unfamiliar beliefs.

It is important to note that the Government House Chapel predates Governor Aiyedatiwa’s tenure. It is equally worthy of note to state that none of his predecessor, be it an Executive Governor or Military Administrator, had dared to enact such a seismic shift from the norm.

The questions presently agitating the minds of Christians within and outside Ondo state is if the Governor would have dared to wield such authority within a Mosque?

In response to this seismic upheaval, Christians across Ondo State and beyond are implored to maintain vigilance. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) must rise up against what is perceived as a grievous affront to the tenets of Christianity.

Adding to the intrigue, Aiyedatiwa proclaimed one fateful morning that he had been anointed by God to assume the mantle of General Overseer (GO) of the chapel. His subsequent participation in conducting last week’s Sunday service casts doubt upon his jurisdiction in matters of faith, casting a pall of uncertainty over Orthodox Churches.

But beyond this, the governor is said to have imported some strange-looking creatures to form part of the clergy. An inside source disclosed that the men were indeed imported from India as part of a larger team of prayer warriors ahead of the governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress.

An elder in the chapel, who pleaded not to be named, said the governor has become paranoid about how church matters are run in the chapel.

“It is surprising what is driving the governor recently. He is carrying out changes that are aliens to the order of service in the chapel.

Recently, some strange people were brought into the chapel. Some people said they were part of of his prayer warriors. It was later that we gathered that they were from India. We have never seen anything like this before,” the elder said.

Continue Reading

News

Pregnant woman, widow arrested over N3.2m counterfeit cash, lethal illicit substance

… As NDLEA recovers 900,000 opioid pills, 1,347.4kg cannabis in Kano, Kogi, Imo, Edo, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti raids

Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, have intercepted a commercial bus conveying N3.2million counterfeit cash owned by three suspects: eight-month pregnant Favour Peter, 24; Esther Adukwu, 27, and Ochigbo Michael, 39, who were arrested at Jabi park in Abuja in a follow up operation on Tuesday 9th April following the seizure of the fake naira notes in Lokoja, Kogi state.

This is even as NDLEA officers in collaboration with men of the Nigerian Navy Ship Lugard base, Lokoja intercepted 37-year-old Aliyu Lawal along Lokoja-Abuja road on Monday 8th April and recovered 620 blocks of cannabis weighing 310kg from him, while 10 sacks of the same psychoactive substance weighing 98kg were seized along Okene-Lokoja-Abuja express way by NDLEA operatives from Jama Obodo, 44, in a commercial bus coming from Ilesha, Osun state enroute Taraba state on Wednesday 10th April.

In Cross River state, a 40-year-old widow and mother of two, Mrs. Theodora Ita was on Monday 8th April arrested at Bassey Edom, Calabar, by NDLEA operatives for producing and selling a lethal new psychoactive substance, NPS, locally called ‘Combine’, which is a mixture of different strains of cannabis and opioids soaked in raw gin. As at the time of her arrest, 18 litres of the dangerous substance in used paint drums were recovered from her.

In her statement, she claimed she started the illicit drug production and distribution in October 2023. Another suspect, Godwin Okon Samuel, 48, was apprehended at Essit Ebum area of Calabar with 39.4kg of cannabis sativa on Tuesday 9th April.

While two suspects: Sani Mohammed, 43, and Christopher Eze, 64, were arrested in Sabon Gari area of Kano on Tuesday 9th April with 900,000 pills of opioid recovered from them, NDLEA operatives on patrol along Owerri-Onitsha road, Imo state on Friday 12th April intercepted a logistics truck with registration number JGB 403XB and recovered 230 blocks of cannabis sativa weighing 119kg hidden under household items after a thorough search.

At least 252 kilograms of cannabis were seized during a raid at Ijesa Isu forest, Ekiti state on Saturday 13th April while four suspects: Adamu Umar, 39; Abdullahi A Gimba, 27; Julius Uduakhomu, 28; and Micheal Sunday, 24, were nabbed loading 40kg of same substance to the engine compartment of a gas truck at Agho village, Owan East, Edo state.

Two motorcycles used in conveying the consignment to where the gas truck heading to the North was parked, were also recovered.

In Ogun state, a suspect, Ismaila Ogun was arrested on Friday 12th April with 79kg cannabis at Imeko, while 18-year-old Friday Abah was nabbed with 410kg of the same substance when NDLEA operatives raided Obatedo camp, Itaogbolu forest, Akure North LGA, Ondo state.

With the same zeal, the various commands of the Agency across the country
continued with the War Against Drug Abuse, WADA, advocacy campaign in the past week. Some of them include: WADA sensitisation lecture for students and staff of Gboko Polytechnic, Gboko, Benue state; officers and men of 15 Engineering Field Regiment Nigerian Army, Topo, Badagry Lagos; meat butchers at Odo Eran abattoir, Osogbo, Osun state and WADA advocacy visit to Kogi state Governor, Ahmed Usman Ododo, among others.

While commending the officers and men of the Kogi, Cross River, Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun, Imo, Kano, and Edo Commands of the Agency for their outstanding feats in drug supply reduction, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) equally applauded them and their counterparts in all the commands across the country for intensifying their WADA advocacy lectures, aimed at drug demand reduction.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending