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Summary

  1. George Osborne has drawn battle lines for the general election after unveiling his Budget for a "comeback country"
  2. Ed Balls says there was nothing in a "pretty empty" Budget which Labour would reverse if it won the election
  3. UKIP MEP and general election candidate Janice Atkinson has been suspended over what the party calls "allegations of a serious financial nature"
  4. Danny Alexander says the Lib Dems would borrow less than Labour and cut less than the Conservatives
  5. Mr Alexander unveils a "better" Lib Dem alternative to the Budget
  6. There are 49 days until the general election

Live Reporting

By Sarah Weaver and Tom Moseley

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Recap: Thursday's politics

  • The Budget has loomed large over the political debate
  • The IFS
    says the Conservatives should explain more about their planned welfare cuts
  • Chancellor George Osborne
    has denied that his planned cuts after the general election will be tougher than the austerity of the past few years
  • The Lib Dems
    have unveiled their own alternative Budget
  • UKIP MEP and general election candidate Janice Atkinson
    has been suspended over what the party calls "allegations of a serious financial nature"
  • Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
    says people in England have nothing to fear from the SNP - but that her party will "assert itself" after the election

Thanks for joining us. We'll be back with more live coverage from 06:00.

Coming up on This Week

Nihal Arthanayake
BBC

The This Week team are about to go live. The first guest is radio presenter

Nihal Arthanayake who will present this film, where he says British people need to be 'fearless' in asking questions about race.

Question Time - last one

Punchy question to finish with: Why can't MPs be more truthful? It appears this is a popular view - a recent Ipsos Mori

poll found that just 16% of people trusted politicians to tell the truth. Will Self says politicians feel "terribly misunderstood" and can't speak freely. Chuka Umunna says politicians sometimes cannot give "black or white" answers to complex questions. Sajid Javid rounds things off by saying almost all MPs are in Parliament "because they want to make the country better". And on this cordial note, that's your lot for Question Time.

Ian Birrell, columnist

@ianbirrell

tweets: Now Will Self seems to be claiming Thatcher created the concept of people buying houses to rent them out #BBCQT

Glen Oglaza, former Sky News political correspondent

@glenoglaza1

tweets: #bbcqt #shirleywilliams laments the quality of available housing, then suggests building prefabs!

Paul Waugh, Editor, PoliticsHome

@paulwaugh

tweets: Sajid Javid to Will Self: "I have worked for the minimum wage actually" Maybe Self has no idea about Sajid's upbringing #bbcqt

Rent cap?

A rent cap - a solution suggested by the audience - "would make a difficult situation worse" says Sajid Javid on Question Time. As for the question of why not enough new homes are being built, some of the difficulties are

summarised here.

'Lousy job'

Shirley Williams
BBC

When will the government address the cost of rent when people cannot afford to buy homes, is the next question. Dia Chakravarty says the green belt is part of the problem. Lots of it isn't "lush countryside" and should be built on, she says. All governments have done a "lousy job on housing", Lib Dem Shirley Williams says. She favours "prefabricated building" on brownfield sites as a short-term solution.

i front page

i front page
Independent newspapers

'Celebrity status'

Question Time
BBC

On Question Time, in relation to the schoolgirls travelling to Syria, Dia Chakravarty of the TaxPayers' Alliance says her heart says "leave them out there" but that they should get a fair trial. Why are we giving the so-called Islamic State "celebrity status", she asks.

HuffPost UK Politics

@HuffPostUKPol

tweets: "We still seem to believe we can force people to be like us, if necessary with the barrel of a gun..." #bbcqt

Will Self
BBC

Syria question

Next up on Question Time is the issue of Britons travelling to Syria to join extremists working there. Chuka Umunna says we should not "disregard the rule of law when it comes to people returning". The Met police

has said the three schoolgirls who are thought to have travelled to Syria will not be arrested if they return.

Jane Merrick, political editor of Independent on Sunday

@janemerrick23

tweets: I don't believe 2 per cent of jobs are zero hours contracts, where is that exact stat + source,anyone? @sajidjavid?

Wikipedia entries

Question Time
BBC

Will Self versus Sajid Javid now on Question Time. Self says the culture secretary wouldn't fancy getting out of bed for the minimum wage. "Of course I would, I have worked for the minimum wage actually," Javid replies. It turns out the two have been studying each other's Wikipedia entries. "Yours is longer than mine," the culture secretary says, "I'm talking about your Wikipedia entry".

Independent front page

Independent front page
Independent

Guardian front page

Guardian front page
Guardian newspapers

Question Time - pensioner benefits

Dia Chakravarty of the TaxPayers' Alliance is making the case for means testing pensioners' winter fuel allowance. Prime Minister David Cameron

recently pledged to protect universal pensioner benefits if the Conservatives win the next election. Labour and the Lib Dems plan to reduce entitlements to varying degrees.

Daily Telegraph front page

Daily Telegraph front page
Telegraph

Poverty record

Question Time
BBC

On Question Time, the Conservative and Labour frontbenchers lock horns as culture secretary Sajid Javid attacks Labour's record on poverty reduction and the minimum wage. Chuka Umunna refutes this and David Dimbleby intervenes.

Paul Waugh, Editor, PoliticsHome

@paulwaugh

tweets: Latest Survation/Daily Record poll shows SNP surge stronger than ever: SNP 47% (+2); LAB 26% (-1); CON 16% (+1); LD 4% (-1)

'Frothy coffee'

"If it is a recovery, it's a frothy coffee kind of recovery", says author Will Self. Average incomes may have risen, but lots of people have lost out, he says. As for the cuts to come, he adds: "You ain't seen nothing yet." You can read BBC economics editor Robert Peston's take on the scale of cuts after the election

here.

The Times front page

The Times front page
Times

Lib Dem budget

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander poses with the Lib Dems alternative Budget box
Reuters

Now Lib Dem Baroness Williams is explaining why her party has

produced its own budget, unveiled by Danny Alexander today, complete with yellow "Liberal Democrat Budget" box. The Lib Dems do not agree that the deficit can be eliminated without tax rises.

Worse off?

Labour's Chuka Umunna, the shadow business secretary, says people are worse off since 2010. This

claim, disputed by the Conservatives, is one of the arguments played out this afternoon in the fallout from the Budget.

Question Time under way

We're up and running on Question Time and the first question is about yesterday's Budget. Why do people not feel better off, asks an audience member. Conservative culture secretary Sajid Javid gets in an early reference to the "long-term economic plan" and says the UK is "the jobs factory of Europe".

'The best chancellor Labour doesn't have'

The Times

Alistair Darling and George Osborne appearing on The Andrew Marr Show in 2009
BBC

Philip Collins' take on the Budget is that the chancellor rowed back from further austerity post-2020 because "in a steady-as-she-goes election you do not wish to be branded an ideologue". Writing in

tomorrow's Times, (£) Mr Collins says: "After declaring Alistair Darling's plan for deficit reduction would turn London into Athens, Mr Osborne has actually carried it out by accident." He goes on: "George Osborne has turned into a Tory man carrying out Labour measures, the best chancellor Labour doesn't have."

Daily Mail front page

Daily Mail front page
Daily Mail

The World Tonight

The BBC Radio 4 show is hosting a special edition on defence, looking at the threats to the UK and whether the country spends enough to deal with them. You can listen on the Live Coverage tab above.

Media Guardian

@mediaguardian

David Cameron, centre, with Nick Clegg, left, and Gordon Brown before the second leaders' debate in 2010
PA

tweets: Broadcasters pile pressure on Cameron over
second live election debate

Financial Times front page

FT front page
Financial Times

Rupert Murdoch, Media mogul

@rupertmurdoch

tweets: Agree with POTUS about compulsory voting. Works well n Australia

Young vote

BBC News School Report

Pupils from Turnbull High School, Glasgow
BBC School Report

The political parties made

one-minute party political broadcasts with leading figures aimed at young people, with the aim of sparking interest in democracy and politics. It was part of
BBC News School Report's annual News Day. How did the films go down with this tough audience? BBC School Reporters from around the UK have been
taking a look.

SNP should 'pray for Cameron'

The Guardian

Boy waves the Saltire outside Westminster
Reuters

In his Guardian

column, Owen Jones argues that, despite Conservative campaigning that Labour would usher in the SNP, leading to the break up of the Union, the opposite is, in fact, the case and "the cause of Scottish independence will be best bolstered by a Tory government".

He writes: "For most Scots, Toryism is an alien and hostile political force. Scots vote time and time again to reject the Tories in great numbers, and yet get lumbered with Tory governments anyway. A vote for the Tories is a vote to dissolve Britain.

"If I were an SNP strategist, I would be praying for another five years of David Cameron, George Osborne, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Gove. Far riskier for the SNP to be potentially tainted by propping up a Labour government, or for inadvertently demonstrating that Scotland can maximise its influence within the UK."

'Where's Mili?'

Guido Fawkes

Guido is

reporting that Ed Miliband is notable by his absence from Labour's election leaflets. The political blogger says he has trawled through the leaflets recipients have uploaded to the
electionleaflets.org website and can find neither hide nor hair of the Labour leader, prompting Guido to ask: "Where's Mili?"

Question Time panel

Coming up at 22:45, watch on the live coverage tab above:

Question Time lineup
BBC

The Sun

The

suspension of UKIP MEP Janice Atkinson comes after an investigation by The Sun,
the paper says.

Reality Check

Reacting to the Budget earlier today, David Cameron compared the nation's finances to Greece. The PM said: "When I first came here as prime minister five years ago Britain and Greece were virtually in the same boat - we had similar-sized budget deficits."

The BBC's Jonathan Paterson has analysed Mr Cameron's claim and writes: "It is correct to say the UK (-9.6% GDP) and Greece (-11.1% GDP) were running similar budget deficits in 2010, if measured as a percentage of overall GDP. And by 2013 (the most recent full year figures available) that the gulf had significantly widened with the UK now recording -5.8% GDP and Greece at -12.2% of GDP. However latest quarterly figures for 2014 suggest Greece is already making more progress than the UK in reducing its deficit.

"And with other economic indicators from 2010 (growth, unemployment) showing the UK's economy was already considerably healthier than Greece's, the dangers of relying on one set of data to prove the government's case are clear."

Arif Ansari, BBC North West political editor

@ArifBBC

tweets: I gather it's an all-women shortlist for Tory candidate in #Eddisbury which includes @ASandbachAM . Names expected tomorrow. @ConHome

'75% of cuts' to families in jobs

Channel 4

Sonia Sodha, former advisor to Ed Miliband, tells Channel 4 News what she calls the reined-back state under George Osborne's spending plans is "not the kind of country I want to live in".

"Three quarters of welfare cuts have happened to families that are in jobs, in work", she continues.

Michael Crick, Political correspondent, Channel 4 News

‏@MichaelLCrick

tweets: Janice Atkinson suspension. Ukip seems to have rather higher attrition rate amongst its MEPs & parliamentary candidates than other parties