Analysis: Chancellor thought he could get away with a broken promise - Number 10 thought differently

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond Photo by Carl Court - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond Photo by Carl Court - WPA Pool/Getty Images - Credit: PA

It is embarrassing for a Chancellor to have to u-turn on a budget measure so quickly.

Exactly a week ago Philip Hammond was preparing to deliver his financial statement with little idea of the political storm that was to follow.

He was hoping for straightforward headlines and praise for a red book which was balanced.

Now he faces a £2bn hole in his budget.

When it comes to budget fall-outs politics often triumphs and Number 10 has finally concluded they will be judged more harshly over the broken manifesto promise than over the fiscal gap.


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In a sign of just how unafraid the government is of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, they dropped the announcement moments before Prime Minister's question time.

Labour had little time to organise an ambush and Mr Corbyn is not very good at thinking on his feet.

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But it will be a convenient distraction for an under-pressure government.

A potential break-up of the union after Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced she will push for a second Scottish referendum was knocked from its spot as the topic de jour

And the furore over Conservative election expenses which has surfaced again has also been overshadowed.

A u-turn was inevitable. But the events of the past week have been damaging.

An insistence that it was in the spirit of the manifesto now look insincere.

The government hoped they would get away with it, and they didn't.

In the end it was backbenchers who held the government to account - a sign of the strength they wield.

Mrs May is perhaps regarding her wafer thin majority with a little less confidence now.

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