Will Boris and Cameron go to war over the Budget?

Mayor warns that London must be spared from “dramatic and deep cuts”.

The dramatic spending cuts planned by the coalition government have yet to produce any significant divisions on the Conservative side, but that may have changed today with the intervention of Boris Johnson.

Boris, who rarely misses an opportunity to provoke David Cameron, told the London Assembly that he was fighting to protect the capital from the "dramatic and deep cuts" announced by the Chancellor, George Osborne.

In particular, he is desperate to secure the future of the £16bn Crossrail project and vital Tube upgrades.

He said: "It is quite wrong to treat us [London] in the same way as other, more spendthrift areas of Whitehall."

Cameron will be reluctant to concede to Boris. The coalition's mantra remains "We're all in this together": no exceptions can be made (the £110bn NHS budget aside). And among voters there is a widespread perception that London has received preferential treatment for far too long.

But the Prime Minister and his allies will be troubled by Boris's intervention all the same. After Michael Gove was forced to announce that many schools weren't going to be rebuilt after all, we witnessed the unusual spectacle of Conservative MPs (Ian Liddell-Grainger, Philip Davies) against Tory cuts.

As cuts move steadily from the abstract to the specific, we can expect others to join them. In every case, the MP in question will insist that while reducing the country's £149bn Budget deficit remains the priority, an exception should be made for them and their constituents.

Boris, the man still seem by some as the party's leader-in-waiting, could yet become a rallying point for anti-cuts Tories.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

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

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