Above the Fold: final word

By Ben Brigden

This was billed as a make-or-break budget for Hammond. If his visual gags and ‘classic puns’ were anything to go by, he certainly passed the test.

Although everyone can agree that Hammond delivered an interesting speech, the British media took very different messages away from this year’s Budget.

The headlines on Thursday morning were predictably polarised. The Financial Times focused on the gloomy economic climate, with its headline ‘Grim outlook overshadows housing drive.’ It wrote of a 17-year stagnation in wages. There’s a nice stat to chew over with your morning cornflakes.

The Guardian led the attack, leading with ‘Hammond struggles to lift the gloom’. Economics lead writer, Aditya Chakrabortty, slammed the Budget as ‘Conservative political economy writ large: look after the asset owners, in the hope they’ll look after you at the polls and eventually pass on the assets to their kids.’ Shots fired.

The Times began its analysis with the rather sombre proclamation that Hammond has eased off on austerity, while the Telegraph focused on the stamp duty changes, lauding it a ‘helping hand’ for first-time buyers.

The Mail and the Sun were both far more cheerful. The eye-catching headline ‘Eeyore no more!’ captured the mood of the Mail’s newsroom, while the Sun had the Chancellor in cricket whites with the caption ‘House-Zat’—a nod to the stamp duty changes for first-time buyers.

Daily Mail columnist Peter Oborne was quick to turn the crew on Labour: ‘the wind has certainly been knocked out of Jeremy Corbyn’s sails in this well-crafted Budget.’ True to form, the Daily Express took the opportunity to champion Britain’s exit from the EU, leading with ‘£3 billion to speed up EU exit: don’t panic it’s not more cash for Brussels.’

Our take
Despite the doom and gloom surrounding Brexit and the economy, there was plenty for Brits to cheer about in this year’s Budget. Relaxing stamp duty for first-time buyers and revising business rates were definite crowd pleasers.

The annual Budget humdrum always attracts widespread media attention and fierce debate on all colours of the political spectrum. Hammond was battling for his job last month, but it seems his box office speech may have silenced critics for now.