Opinionomics: must-read analysis and comment

Budget, budget, budget!

1. Budget 2012: A budget to bash baby-boomers (Telegraph)

Ian Cowie covers the various ways in which the Baby Boomers are hit by the budget.

2. Budget 2012: Breaking down the benefits bill (Left Foot Forward)

Richard Darlington points out that the much-vaunted "tax transparency" isn't much good if it presents "welfare" as one undifferentiated lump.

3. The Tories have taken a political risk – but they may be forgiven (LabourList)

Anthony Painter analysises the 50p tax-cut, and its political effects.

4. The real point about the rise in personal allowances (Tim Worstall)

Wostall argues that the rise in personal allowances highlights the general failure to uprate allowances to match inflation.

5. The Office for Budget Responsibility's credibility is in tatters (Independent)

David Blanchflower points out the terrible history the OBR has with getting anything right ever.

Pandora's box. Credit: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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FTSE 100 plunges after Theresa May signals hard Brexit ahead

The Prime Minister is to lay out her Brexit plan later today. 

The FTSE 100 and the FTSE 250 plummeted this morning after the Prime Minister signalled Brexit will mean leaving the single market.

Theresa May is expected to rule out "partial membership" or any other kind of "half-in, half-out" deal with the EU in a speech later today.

The FTSE 100, the index of the UK's 100 biggest companies, and the FTSE 250 both fell more than 0.3 per cent immediately after opening. 

The worst performers included the housebuilder Barratt Developments, consumer goods tester Intertek and the mining company BHP.

Stock markets have been buoyant since Brexit, in part because many of Britain's biggest companies are international and benefit from a devalued pound. 

However, while markets fell, the pound crept up against the dollar, to $1.21. 

Critics of the Prime Minister say she is sacrificing the economy to prioritise immigration controls.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady warned: "If we leave the single market, working people will end up paying the price. It'd be bad for jobs, for work rights & for our living standards."

According to the Office for National Statistics, inflation rose from 1.2 per cent in November to 1.6 per cent in December. 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.