The Chancellor of the Exchequer has pledged to increase public spending should MPs back the Prime Minister’s EU withdrawal treaty next week, prompting hopes that schools could be in line for a modest funding boost.
In his October Budget Mr Hammond stated he had £15.4bn worth of room for movement. However, he warned that part of that money may be required to aid the economy in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The prospect of additional spending is therefore heavily dependent on a series of votes in Parliament next week. The schedule of votes is likely to be as follows:
- The first vote, known as the “meaningful vote” will be a yes-no choice between approving the Prime Minister’s plan or not. The deal was heavily defeated when the previous vote was held in January. This is likely to happen on 12 March.
- If the Government is defeated, Ministers will then allow a vote on whether to have a no-deal Brexit. That would mean leaving the EU and reverting to World Trade Organization trade terms before the end of the month. This would be likely to happen on 13 March, just before the Chancellor’s the Spring Statement.
- If a no-deal Brexit is rejected, then MPs will be given the chance to say whether they would like an extension to the Article 50 period, potentially prolonging the UK’s membership of the EU beyond 29 March. This would happen on 14 March.
It is unclear what the implications for spending would be in some of the possible scenarios. Treasury officials have said there will be no new tax or spending measures announced in the statement, so any budgetary bonus would not be spent immediately. Instead, Mr Hammond would make more money available in the public spending review later this year.