One litmus test of a Budget is how its received by the next day’s papers, so here’s what Fleet Street made of it all.
The Sun takes the opportunity to have a swipe at the government over press regulation. The irony is that George Osborne was equally dismayed by the grubby nature of the deal and the presence of Hacked Off at the negotiations.
The Chancellor backed the paper’s call for a cut in beer duty but the Sun complains that wine is up by 10p and spirits by 47p, while also expressing its long-standing opposition to the increase in overseas aid (“untouched once again, workers”).
Team Osborne will be much happier with the front page of Fleet Street’s other leading right-wing title, which declares that the Chancellor “seized the mantle of Margaret Thatcher” by supporting home ownership and cutting taxes. “I nearly choked on my toast and marmite,” said Osborne this morning of the paper’s mock up of him as the Iron Lady.
The Guardian contrasts Osborne’s populist maneouvres with the anaemic economic outlook (“growth down, borrowing up”).
The Telegraph gives a cautious welcome to Osborne’s plans to support Britain’s “property-owning democracy”.
The Times also splashes on Osborne’s housing annoucements declaring that the Chancellor has gone “for growth” (although the OBR small print shows that the Budget is forecast to boost GDP by precisely 0%).
The FT focuses on Osborne’s political positioning, while noting that the growth forecast for 2013 has been halved (from 1.2% to just 0.6%).
The Mirror assails Osborne for his lack of fiscal activism, invoking the poverty of the 1900s.
The Independent shares the Guardian’s verdict, rightly noting that the economic outlook darkened in every respect yesterday. The paper also notes Barclays’s decision to use Budget day to hand out £39m in bonuses for nine senior staff.
Finally, the Express gives the Budget the most favourable welcome of all, hailing Osborne’s decision to cut beer duty, increase the personal allowance and support home buyers.