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Budget 2019 cancelled as election beckons

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The chancellor has written to the chair of the Treasury committee, confirming postponement of his planned 6 November Budget, in view of the Brexit delay and December general election. The original Budget announcement was conditional upon the UK leaving the EU with a deal on 31 October.

The CIOT has warned that the lack of a UK Budget will complicate the Scottish government’s ability to produce its own Budget, currently scheduled for 12 December, as the absence of tax and spending decisions at Westminster will leave Holyrood without Scotland’s full fiscal picture. A delay will also limit the time available to MSPs to scrutinise tax changes in Scotland before the start of the new tax year in April.

Chair of the CIOT’s Scottish technical committee, Alexander Garden, suggested this leaves the Scottish finance minister with two possible options: publish Scotland’s budget before Westminster; or wait until after a UK Budget, which may not come until January. Garden described the first of these options as ‘exacting’, the second as ‘impractical’.

On 29 October, the European Council finalised the latest Brexit extension, adopting a decision to extend the Article 50 withdrawal period until 31 January 2020, to allow more time for the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement. The withdrawal can take place earlier, on 1 December 2019 or 1 January 2020, if the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified by both parties.

Meanwhile, the government introduced the Early Parliamentary General Election Bill for fast-tracking through Parliament. The Bill makes provision for a parliamentary general election to be held on 12 December. Following confirmation of the Brexit extension, the Bill passed its Commons stages with minimal amendment. The Bill will now progress to the Lords.

The Bill requires royal assent by 5 November, so that Parliament can dissolve just after midnight on 6 November, allowing 25 working days for administration of the general election.

Issue: 1463
Categories: News