Philip Hammond does big spending moves and bad jokes in the Budget
Did the chancellor set a new low for Budget humour?
In his last Budget before Brexit, Philip Hammond did his best to support Theresa May’s slightly over-zealous conference claim that the era of austerity is over.
He revealed that the OBR has upped its growth forecast to 1.6 per cent for 2019/20 and told the Commons: "I can report to the British people that their hard work is paying off and the era of austerity finally coming to an end.”
As Labour MPs huffed and puffed, the chancellor attempted to back up his rhetoric with various spending announcements - see below.
But it wasn’t all wildly different from previous years. Returning to Spreadsheet Phil mode, Hammond noted that “austerity is coming to an end – but discipline will remain”.
And he made a number jokes that were as terrible as usual. Or even worse, according to one seasoned political hack. On The Guardian’s liveblog, Andrew Sparrow suggested that he chancellor had “probably set a new low for budget humour in that speech”.
Hammond’s bad gags
The one where he called himself Hammo
“The media has been full of speculation of the timing of today’s Budget. Some were hoping for a December Budget. I’m sure the headline writers were ready with something like ‘Spreadsheet Phil turned Santa Clause’. Others were desperate for it to be on Wednesday. ‘Hammo-House of Horrors’ perhaps?’”
The one where he called himself fiscal Phil
“It means that we meet our target to get debt falling three years early. A turning point in our nation’s recovery from Labour’s great recession. Both our fiscal rules met. Both of them three years early. So Mr Deputy Speaker, fiscal Phil says fiscal rules OK.”
The one that looked like he came up with a policy on toilets so he could make a joke about it
"I am pleased to provide a new mandatory business rates relief for public lavatories, so that local authorities can at last relieve themselves for the convenience of the house, Mr Deputy Speaker.
“And without wishing to get unduly bogged down on this subject, this relief... (well at least I'm demonstrating that we are all British) will extend to any such facilities made available for public use whether privately or publicly owned.
“And honestly I can say, Mr Deputy Speaker, that this is basically the only item in this Budget that hasn't leaked.”
The one where he spent £10m on a joke about John McDonnell
“The shadow chancellor’s recent accident has reminded us all how dangerous abandoned waste can be so I will provide £10m to deal with abandoned waste sites – although I can’t guarantee to the House that £10m is going to be enough to stop him falling flat on his face in the future.”
Hammond’s spending splurge
An extra £20.5bn for the NHS over the next five years
A minimum extra £2bn a year for mental health services in England
An extra £1bn for armed forces, for cyber-capabilities and the UK's new nuclear submarine programme.
£900m in business rates relief for small businesses and £650m to rejuvenate High Streets
An extra £700m for councils, for care for the elderly and those with disabilities
A one-off £400m "bonus" to help schools buy "the little extras they need"
An extra £160m for counter-terrorism police
£60m for planting trees in England
A £30bn package for England's roads, including repairs to motorways and potholes (announced on 27 October)
£10m for mental health care for veterans, to mark the centenary of World War One Armistice
£10m for air ambulances
Abolition of stamp duty abolished first-time buyers of shared ownership properties valued up to £500,00