Philip Hammond poked fun at the Government’s divisions and cracked a series of gags about toilets in an uncharacteristic display of Budget humour.
The Chancellor – nicknamed Spreadsheet Phil because of his sober style – also targeted his opposite number John McDonnell and former deputy prime minister Sir Nick Clegg during his Commons statement.
– The last Budget to be held on a Monday was in 1962 and Mr Hammond said: “I was six years old, tensions between Russia and the United States were rising and a former foreign secretary turned chancellor delivered a Budget amid Cabinet revolt… I could swear I remember my parents turning to me and saying: ‘Philip, one day, that can be you’.”
– By holding the statement on Monday rather than the usual Wednesday, the Chancellor said he avoided a Halloween Budget which could have produced “Hammo House of Horrors” headlines but “I have not avoided the blood-curdling threats, the anguished wailing, and the strange banging of furniture that’s usually associated with Wednesday – I have kindly been invited to a special meeting of the 1922 Committee this evening”.
– In a display of toilet humour, the Chancellor promised that councils can “relieve themselves” with a tax break on public lavatories, although he did not want to get “bogged down” on the subject. It was, he noted, one of the few announcements that had not “leaked”.
– In a nod to Mr McDonnell’s recent accident, suffered tripping over fly-tipped waste, the Chancellor promised cash to deal with the issue “although I cannot guarantee that £10 million is going to be enough to stop him falling flat on his face in the future”.
– After announcing plans for a £400 million digital services tax, Mr Hammond also managed a quick jibe at Sir Nick, who has taken a senior role with Facebook, joking that “I am already looking forward to my call from the former leader of the Liberal Democrats”.