PHILIP HAMMOND is hardly a natural entertainer, but the Chancellor will have to perform quite a juggling act if he is to make a success of today’s final pre-Brexit budget.

Caution has tended to be Mr Hammond’s byword during his time in charge of the treasury, and with the possibility of a no-deal Brexit creating a huge amount of financial uncertainty, the Chancellor will be especially keen to keep a tight control over the public accounts.

However, if he intended to keep spending to a minimum prior to the Tory conference, his plans were torpedoed when the Prime Minister announced she was “ending austerity” in her conference speech. Mrs May’s claims will sound extremely hollow if there are not some juicy giveaways in Mr Hammond’s budget.

The Prime Minister has already pledged a £20bn-a-year increase in NHS spending and a freeze in fuel duty that will cost the Treasury around £800m next year. The Conservatives have also promised to fund a £1bn scheme that will allow local authorities to borrow more in order to build more council houses.

In effect, that money has already been spent. Mr Hammond will have to come up with additional areas of new spending if he is not to be accused of reneging on his Prime Minister’s promise, with universal credit likely to be a key area of focus.

At the same time, however, he will have to be mindful of the potential for a major financial wobble if Brexit ends messily.

As a result, striking the right balance later today will be an extremely tough task.