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Budget banter: What Lewis Hamilton and Jeremy Clarkson have in common

7 min read

23 November 2017

Budget banter is something we've grown accustomed to, with the chancellor in question trying to brighten the mood created by economic statistics. So what staged material did Philip Hammond come up with?

Prime minister Theresa May’s speech to MPs at a Conservative party conference early October is likely to go down in history for a number of reasons. For starters, The Guardian’s Martin Belam deemed it a “fight for her political life after weeks of leadership manoeuvres by senior figures in her cabinet”.

May was interrupted by a prankster, who handed her a fake P45 claiming she was “neither strong nor stable”. It led to the stumbling of words and, inevitably, a coughing fit that plagued her until the end of the speech – even after chancellor Philip Hammond offered a cough sweet.

It was this moment that Hammond focussed on when, during the Autumn Budget, he joked: “I did take the precaution of asking my Right Honourable friend to bring a packet of cough sweets.”

May waved around a pack from the first row in good humour, indicating that we would not be without Budget banter. We may have needed it, as the chancellor started off by admitting the nation’s “productivity performance continued to disappoint”.

Nonetheless, tweets likened his attempts to a stand-up comedy routine:

Just in case you missed the Budget banter, we have you covered.

Nods to several people

Michael Gove, the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, is allegedly gunning for Hammond’s job. The Times’ Matt Chorley was the first to exclaim that he had angered colleagues by using cabinet meetings as auditions to be the next chancellor.

It was all because Gove had started using “long, economicky words” – something Hammond brought up during the Budget. He said: “I shall first report to the House on the forecasts of the independent OBR. This is the bit with the ‘long, economicky words’.”

Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton was also used as Budget banter material following the increased cost of private jets and premium-class flight tickets.

“Sorry Hamilton,” Hammond said, referring to news that the racer had allegedly avoided taxes on his private jet.

TV references galore

Electric car technologies were subject to numerous investments, including the establishment of a £400m charging infrastructure fund. The importance of the driverless car to the UK economy likewise gained a nod, and was included among the Budget banter.

Hammond joked: “I know that Jeremy Clarkson doesn’t like them, but there are also other reasons to pursue this technology. Today we step up our support for it. Sorry Clarkson, but definitely not the first time you’ve been snubbed by Hammond and May.”

Brits will not only be wondering whether the chancellor is a fan of The Grand Tour. He could very well be watching I’m a Celebrity too. During a particular moment of uproar, Hammond silenced the oposition by mentioning the former leader of the Scottish Labour party, Kezia Dugdale, who has just become a contestant on the jungle programme.

“If they carry on there’ll be plenty of others joining Dugdale in ‘I’m labour get me out of here’,” he said.

Cheers, deputy speaker

Alcohol played a prominent part in the chancellor’s jokes, started by his verbal rejection of a more hearty substance for his speech. According to The Standard, “the chancellor is usually allowed an alcoholic drink on Budget Day.” Plain water, however, is what he admitted to drinking.

He later added that duty on white cider would be rising, while “those on other ciders, wines, spirits and beer would be frozen. Merry Christmas, Mr deputy speaker.”

Those on Twitter didn’t take the latter attempt at Budget banter too well:

The joke receiveing mixed reviews

Hammond also announced schools would be getting £600 for every additional pupil taking A-level or core maths. “That’s maths for everyone,” he exclaimed. “Don’t say I don’t know how to show the nation a good time.”

Some deemed it dissapointing given that his “maths is boring” sentence undid his previous effort to get more people participating. Others thought it brilliant that he added it was useful in “less glamorous jobs like politics” too.