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Budget 2017 Speech Called 'Jaw Dropping' By SNP For Failing To Address Brexit

It's only the biggest issue facing Britain right now.

08/03/2017 15:17

Philip Hammond’s Budget speech has been criticised for only mentioning Brexit in passing and containing nothing to address it.

In the 6,760-word speech, the Chancellor mentioned no specific measure to help cope with the potential fallout of leaving the EU, which is due to begin before the end of the month, when Theresa May has pledged to trigger Article 50.

Hammond opposed Brexit before last year’s referendum and is seen as more cautious on the issue than others in the Cabinet.

In his speech on Wednesday, he twice appeared to acknowledge the scale of change leaving the EU in his speech but only in passing.

“As we start our negotiations to exit the European Union, this Budget takes forward our plan to prepare Britain for a brighter future,” he said near the speech’s very start.

“As we prepare for our future outside the EU, we cannot rest on our past achievements,” he said later.

Angus Robertson, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, called the failure to seriously address Brexit in the speech “jaw dropping”.

Labour MP Karen Buck called it “extraordinary” while party colleague Wes Streeting asked: “Is anyone going to mention Brexit today? You know - that significant risk to the economy.” 

Writing on The Guardian’s live blog, Andrew Sparrow said: “Hammond said almost nothing about Brexit.

“He is known to be wary of the government’s lurch towards a hard Brexit, so his reticence is understandable, and the speech can be seen as a good guide to the May government’s non-Brexit agenda.

“But over the next two years what happens on Brexit will probably matter more to the UK than anything announced today and so, as budgets go, this one was relatively peripheral.”

Journalist Sunny Hundal said it was “extraordinary” that neither Hammond nor Jeremy Corbyn mentioned Brexit’s economic impact. 

In his response to the budget, Corbyn told the House of Commons that ““our economy is not prepared for breakfast”.

He quickly corrected himself to say “Brexit”.

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