Labour must beware Boris Johnson’s ‘promised land’ budget

The end of austerity is nigh! Again. We have heard this ­before, from no better ­authority than the last Prime Minister Theresa May.

It’s been a bit like the reported death of famous American author Mark Twain who, very much alive, ­commented wryly that stories about his demise “have been greatly exaggerated”.

That’s how it’s been with austerity – the Tories’ ideological way of ­punishing the poorest for the failures of the bankers. Until now.

In the Budget, to be delivered in just over a week, the final rites will be read.

Under Boris’s instruction the new No10 Puppet Chancellor Rishi Sunak will give us the clearest picture yet of the kind of government we will be ­dealing with for the next four years.

It will bury not just austerity but Thatcherism, the economic credo which has been the guiding light of the Tories for almost 40 years. So Boris would have us believe.

We should be more wary.

Sunak believes it. That’s why he was a shoo-in for the job from which ­humiliated Sajid Javid was ­unceremoniously given the boot.

Key to the Budget will be the creation of ten freeports throughout Britain.

These are sort of economic Wild West areas where anything goes except the laws regarding tax, financial ­regulations and planning.

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These states within states could be, according to an analysis prepared by Sunak several years ago, generators of investment, jobs and trade.

Oh how Boris must have swooned when he saw in that report the magic phrase “rebalance the economy” – now the mantra on the wall of every room in Downing Street.

He must have been positively ­drooling when he got to the bit that said: “The stark divide between the economy of London and that of the North is one of the most pressing policy changes facing the UK.”

There’s my Chancellor, said the election-focused PM, conveniently forgetting he already had one.

But Javid hadn’t got the memo.

Even if he had, he would have stood up for the legacy of his heroine Margaret Thatcher – low taxes, low, preferably minimal, public spending and a ­balanced handbag (sorry, economy).

He was, after all, his own man. With the emphasis now on the WAS.

Sunak, who was Javid’s Treasury Chief Secretary, knew there’s nothing that quite proves you are your own man like undermining your boss and waiting for the right moment to make a power grab. Not so much a puppet of No10 as a blood brother to Boris.

So the Budget will promise to open the ­spending taps, tear up – to a point – the rules and switch some tax advantages between North and wealthy South.

It will put off the Tory manifesto pledge of balancing the national budget and appear to splurge on the NHS, crime and social care. “Levelling up”, with more to come.

A promised land, which will leave Labour playing catch-up if they don’t convincingly show that it’s bogus.

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