Raymond Doherty 10 Mar 2017 09:52am

The best Budget jokes

Philip Hammond used his first Budget to try and rid his “Spreadsheet Phil” reputation and out himself as a banter merchant - to mixed results. While the despatch on Budget Day isn’t exactly the crucible of comedy, a few chancellors have tried to break up the numbers with the odd wisecrack
Caption: George 'jokes' Osborne

The best of the bunch from Hammond yesterday was on Jeremy Corbyn disappearing down a black hole. “A well-functioning market economy is the best way to deliver prosperity and security to working families and the litany of failed attempts at state control of industry by Labour leave no one in any doubt about that."

“Except, apparently, the right honourable gentleman opposite, who is now so far down a black hole that even Stephen Hawking has disowned him,"  joked Hammond to much laughter from his fellow Tory MPs and a dead stare from Corbyn.

George Osborne loved a one-liner and his best was giving his former coalition partners a kick when they were down in 2016.

Osborne told MPs the government had been consulting over changes to the pensions tax system but said it was “clear there was no consensus”.

“The former pension minister, the Liberal Democrat Steve Webb, said I was trying to abolish the lump sum,” Osborne recalled. “Instead we are going to keep the lump sum and abolish the Liberal Democrats.”

Osborne also had a dig at Ed Miliband beating his brother to the top job with a quip about Agincourt.

"We could not let the 600th anniversary of Agincourt pass without commemoration," said the then-chancellor. "The battle of Agincourt is, of course, celebrated by Shakespeare as a victory secured by a 'band of brothers', which is sadly not an option available to the party opposite." 

When you think of comedy, the name Gordon Brown rarely comes to mind and for good reason. He told the house in his 2006 speech that he had no intention of introducing VAT on "flip-flops" – a jibe at the expense of David Cameron's perceived U-turn on policies since the last election. You had to be there, it seems.

Ken Clarke in his mid-90s heyday was famous looking like he got dressed in the dark, so got a good chuckle when he kicked off his speech in 1996 with, “Contrary to popular belief, I always look at the mirror in the morning. I am reasonably well prepared for this occasion and I am about to deliver the real Budget statement.” Simpler times.