Despite Theresa May’s eye-catching pledge, the chancellor’s budget will have to factor in Britain’s precarious post-EU future

Philip Hammond’s budget next week is likely to be filled with initiatives and spending plans that, the NHS aside, add up to very little. Brexit, for so long an undetonated bomb, makes all predictions of economic growth and tax receipts more of a fiction than usual – and the chancellor knows it. The inescapable conclusion from a lack of clear visibility is that the Treasury can spend only what it must, he will say. In other respects, it must keep its powder dry. How could he not be cautious, when the most bloodcurdling predictions attached to Britain crashing out of the European Union could prove optimistic.

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