Theresa May's claim that "austerity is ending" was met with laughter by MPs as the prime minister clashed with Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Ministers Questions. 

Condemning what he called a "broken promise Budget", the Labour leader demanded to know why the government had not pledged to end the benefit freeze. 

That prompted confusion over Labour's own policy on the issue after a spokesman for Mr Corbyn said the party would not necessarily raise benefits in line with inflation, despite John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, having said it would. 

The Tories were later engulfed by confusion of their own after Downing Street refused to endorse Brexit secretary Dominic Raab's suggestion that an agreement with the EU was likely to be in place by 21 November.

As Britain prepares to leave the EU, Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, announced plans to recruit 1,000 more diplomatic staff.

His predecessor, Boris Johnson, was also in the news after it emerged that he had accepted an all-expenses-paid trip to Saudi Arabia just two weeks before the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

Follow the action in Westminster as it happened...

 

Welcome to today's live coverage from Westminster.
Jeremy Hunt announced this morning that the UK will recruit 1,000 more diplomatic staff in a bid to retain its international clout after Brexit.
 
The foreign secretary said the expansion would also involve the opening of new embassies.
 

UK to increase diplomatic footprint after Brexit in bid to maintain international clout

Foreign secretary will also promise new embassies and a doubling of diplomats who speak the local language
Speaking at the Policy Exchange think-tank, Jeremy Hunt said he wanted business leaders to become UK ambassadors as part of efforts to "reinvigorate and expand British diplomacy".

Responding to questions about whether this risked a system of  "cronyism", he said:

"There will be absolutely no conflict of interest allowed and anyone applying for these jobs will apply through normal Foreign Office processes so we can make sure that proper independence is protected."

"There may be one or two posts where someone who is perhaps chief executive of a FTSE company, who has got strong links with another country, could do a brilliant job representing the UK, building up our trade with another country.

"We want the Foreign Office to be open to that kind of talent."

There has been a surge in the number of British residents applying for Irish passports as the UK prepares to leave the EU 

Number of British residents applying for Irish passports surges in run-up to Brexit

Over 44,900 applications received in first six months of 2018 - compared with 46,000 in whole of 2015
Sir David Natzler, chief clerk of the Commons, has said MPs could vote twice on the deal the government secures with the EU.
 
He told the Brexit committee that a parliamentary rule that says there should not be a vote on exactly the same matter twice in the same sitting was not designed to "obstruct the necessary business of government on such a crucial thing".
 
The Home Office has been warned it is risking another Windrush scandal amid confusion over the rights of EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit. 
 

Home Office 'risks repeat of Windrush scandal' as employers required to check EU citizens' right to work after Brexit

Government accused of failing to prevent EU nationals being ‘dragged’ into hostile environment after minister admits it will be ‘almost impossible’ to distinguish those with and without status
Sir David Natzler says the "humble address" technique, which was used to force the government to release Brexit impact assessments, could not be used to force ministers to change their Brexit policy. 
 
He tells the Commons Brexit committee that the arcane technique cannot be used not to direct ministers. 
David Davis has predicted that Theresa May will get a Brexit deal, saying: "Terror will win".
 
The former Brexit secretary told an event organised by the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) think-tank:

"Terror will win."

"The fear of no deal, I think - we haven't had a chance to talk about it much - but I think that's an irrational fear of no deal or WTO deal.

"That will win and there will be a deal.

"It may take [a] few passes, there maybe a deal passes in Brussels and fails in Westminster."

British and Canadian politicians have written to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to demand he explain his company's "failures of process" in relation to the spread of fake news and propaganda. 

Damian Collins, the Tory MP who chairs the Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee, has joined forces with Bob Zimmer, chair of the Canadian parliament's committee on access to information, privacy and ethics, to announce an "international grand committee" on "disinformation and fake news".

They told Mr Zuckerberg:

"Over the past year, our committees have both sought evidence from a Facebook executive with sufficient authority to give an accurate account of recent failures of process, including the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal and subsequent data breaches.

"You have chosen instead to send less senior representatives, and have not yourself appeared, despite having taken up invitations from the US Congress and Senate, and the European Parliament."

The Independent editorial: Philip Hammond took a big gamble with the economy in his Budget

Editorial: The IFS is right – Philip Hammond took a big gamble with the economy in his Budget

If there is hard Brexit, a chaotic situation that will inflict unprecedented damage on the economy, the public spending increases and tax rises will not be reversed in the short term simply because the economy will require life support
  
Speaking to the Commons Brexit committee, chief clerk Sir David Natzler said amendments tabled by MPs to the government's plan in the case of a no-deal Brexit would have no legal effect - as reported by The Independent at the weekend...

Commons officials say that MPs do not have a 'legal veto' to stop no-deal Brexit

Exclusive: vote of no confidence in government may be only way to stop Britain crashing out of EU
David Davis appears to have backtracked on his comments last night, in which he suggested Theresa May would get her Brexit deal through Parliament because "terror will win". He's just tweeted to say that, in fact, he doesn't think the Chequers plan would command a majority in the Commons...
 
The son of Labour frontbencher Kate Osamor has stepped down as a Labour councillor in the London Borough of Haringey after admitting being in possession of £2,500-worth of drugs at a music festival.
 
Ishmael Osamor, who works for his mother as a communications officer, said he was resigning and apologised "for the unwelcome attention my case has brought to Haringey."
Labour will abstain on the government's tax changes during votes on the Budget tomorrow, John McDonnell has told reporters...
PMQS is coming up any minutes - stay tuned...
Theresa May begins by paying tribute to the victims of the antisemitic attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, which killed 11 people.
Jeremy Corbyn is up. He also mentions the Pittsburgh attack, which he says was "disgusting, depraved and appalling". 
 
The Labour leader says that if he was a prison governor, a local government leader or a head teacher, he would be preparing for "more difficult years ahead". He asks Theresa May if she thinks that analysis is wrong. 
 
May says the Budget proved that austerity is ending, saying this is about "continuing to bring debt down and put more into our public services".
Corbyn says the warning of further cuts comes from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, including a £4.1bn cut to departmental budgets. He says austerity is not ending and adds:

"The reality is this was a broken promise Budget and she knows it."
 
He asks why the Budget included no investment in neighbourhood policing. May says the government has already invested in the police.
May says Corbyn on Monday called the government's planned tax cuts "frittering money away on ideological tax cuts", but that Labour has since said it will support them.
 
 
Jeremy Corbyn says the benefits freeze takes £1.5bn from 10 million low- and middle-income households, saying for them "there is no end to austerity".
 
He says Labour would end the benefits freeze and asks May to confirm that there are still £5bn of welfare cuts to come during this Parliament. 
 
May says the government is helping people on low incomes by freezing fuel duty and cutting income tax.
 
She says if Corbyn wants to help working people he should vote in favour of the Budget. 


The Independent has launched its #FinalSay campaign to demand that voters are given a voice on the final Brexit deal.

Sign our petition here

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