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Wednesday morning UK news briefing: Rishi Sunak builds for life after Covid

He will deliver an upbeat message. Rishi Sunak will today say it is time to start building the "post-Covid" economy as better-than-expected growth figures give him tens of billions of pounds extra to spend. 

The Chancellor will use his Budget speech to outline a vision for "an economy fit for a new age of optimism" as he draws a line under 18 months of costly pandemic interventions. 

As Political Editor Ben Riley-Smith reports, new money will be put into key Tory reform areas as focus shifts to delivering promises before the next election. 

The positive tone reflects the success of the vaccine rollout and will be taken as a sign that another lockdown or tough economy-hitting restrictions are unlikely this winter. 

But the economic forecasts are expected to include warning signs for the coming years, with inflation projections likely to be increased.

Read everything we expect to be announced in Mr Sunak's statement in the Commons from 12.30pm, which you can follow in our liveblog.

Comment and analysis

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Sport briefing: Raducanu back to winning

Emma Raducanu recovered from a set down to secure her first win since her US Open triumph, in a two-and-a-half-hour first-round marathon at the Transylvania Open. The 18-year-old, who has spoken of the need for fans to be patient after her rapid rise to success, defeated Polona Hercog in the longest match of her career so far. In football, Oliver Brown says it is time for Manchester Utd to cut their losses and get rid of Paul Pogba.

Business briefing: North Sea solution?

Britain's biggest energy supplier is in talks with the Government about reopening a mothballed gas storage facility in an effort to protect the industry from surging power costs. Centrica, the owner of British Gas, is seeking to restore the defunct Rough site off the Yorkshire coast. Gas prices have risen to as high as 11 times normal levels as demand surges.

Tonight's dinner

Whole aubergines with saffron, black cardamom and date butter | This might seem an odd combination of flavours, but Diana Henry says it really works. View the recipe. For more, try our Cookbook newsletter.

Your daily travel inspiration

The 10 best holidays to book for a Christmas getaway | Cities in central Europe are at their best and brightest at this time of year. From beach breaks to city stays and markets to the Northern Lights, Emma Featherstone rounds up the best ideas for the festive season.

And finally... for this morning's downtime

'We won our wedding in The Telegraph' | In 1996, Peter and Leah Norman were thinking of getting married somewhere simple but intimate - until they entered a competition and their plans changed… Helen Chandler-Wilde speaks to them 25 years on.

If you want to receive twice-daily briefings like this by email, sign up to the Front Page newsletter here. For two-minute audio updates, try The Briefing - on podcasts, smart speakers and WhatsApp.

A relaxed Mr Sunak appeared in socks and slip-on sandals and a casual jumper in photographs of him in the run-up to today's Budget at Number 11. 

He is pictured above at a table with Treasury staff, wearing white socks and Palm Angels slip-on sandals - which are sold for £95 at Selfridges. 

In his latest sketch, Tim Stanley says the wonderful thing about the camera - for politicians - is that it never asks questions.

Test & Trace criticised as 'eyewatering' waste of cash

NHS Test and Trace has been an "eyewatering" waste of taxpayers' money that did not achieve its objectives, despite £37bn of funding, a report says today. The budget - equal to almost a fifth of total health service funding - was used to hire more than 2,000 consultants who were employed on rates of more than £1,000 a day, the report by the Public Accounts Committee finds. At some points, just 11pc of contact tracers were working, with the figure never rising beyond 49pc. MPs said billions had been squandered on a failed promise to "enable people to return towards a more normal way of life" that instead resulted in two lockdowns and a rise in cases. From unused labs to staff "paid to watch Netflix", Health Editor Laura Donnelly explains how the system missed a host of targets. And, as it is today due to receive a £5.9bn funding boost, Allison Pearson asks: What is the NHS doing with our billions?

Revealed: New Range Rover goes all-electric

Cleaner, greener and more luxurious. Those are the promises of the new, fifth-generation Range Rover, which goes on sale this autumn and will include the first all-electric model. But will the latest version of this 51-year-old 4x4 institution deliver the prestige and parsimony that customers have come to expect? Motoring Correspondent Andrew English explores the new luxury workhorse.

Today's political cartoon

View today's cartoon by Blower as he imagines how the Chancellor and Prime Minister will fund today's Budget. Matt is away.

Also in the news: Today's other headlines

Queen's health | Buckingham Palace has confirmed that the Queen will not travel to Glasgow to speak at the Cop26 summit. The Queen, who has recently been unwell and was taken to hospital for tests, has "regretfully decided" not to make the journey to Scotland, saying she is "disappointed" not to be able to attend. She will instead deliver a pre-recorded speech to delegates. It came as a poll found that the public supports holding a referendum on the Government's net zero proposals.

Around the world: Cyclone-like storms hit Sicily

At least three people have been killed in Sicily as the island was lashed with rainstorms and hit by heavy flooding that turned streets and squares into rivers and lakes. The worst affected area was the city of Catania, where the main piazza was inundated. See more pictures of streets turned into raging torrents and a hospital flooded in extreme weather that experts said was most likely caused by global warming.