Hammond's zingers: the best jokes in the spring statement
Politics Hammond's zingers: the best jokes in the spring statement
A short spring statement still afforded Chancellor Philip Hammond the chance to attempt wise-cracks from the dispatch box
- Business Live: Reaction to Hammondâs spring statement
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As a deliverer of one-liners, Philip Hammond is no Ken Dodd. But the chancellorâs job d escription when delivering budgets or spring statements involves lightening the economic news with a smattering of jokes at the dispatch box.
With such a short spring statement on Tuesday â" Hammond only spoke for about 30 minutes â" there was not much time to get the gags in. Here are the best of a bad bunch.
Philâs little red nook
Hammond kicked off with a series of jibes aimed at the shadow chancellor, John McDonnel l, and the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
Explaining the way he has overhauled how the government announces tax and spending plans, Hammond said: âI wonât be producing a red book today, Mr Speaker, but of course, I canât speak for the right honourable member opposite.â
He was referring to McDonnellâs reply to George Osborneâs autumn statement in 2015, when McDonnell produced Chairman Maoâs Little Red Book as a prop to quote from.
Eeyores and Tiggers
Hammond has a reputation for being rather dour, and used this for another attack on the Labour leadership.
Boasting that the country had experienced its longest period of consecutive economic growth for some time, Hammond said: âI reject the party oppositeâs doom and gloom about the state of the nation.â
To nods of agreement from the prime minister, Hammond said: âEvery Wednesday, we have to listen to the leader of the opposition relentlessly talking the country down. And every year since 2010, weâve had to listen to the right honourable member for Hayes and Harlington [McDonnell] predict a recession, none of which have actually happened.
âSo, Mr Speaker,â he continued, pointing at the Labour frontbench, âif there are any Eeyores in the chamber, they are over there.â
âI, meanwhile, am at my most positively Tigger-like today.â
The Matt Hancock app
Hammond reeled off a list of British business strengths, including English being the global language of business, research carried out at universities, and the financial services sector of London.
Among them he cited innovations in the tech and apps sector, boasting that a new tech company was launched every hour, and naming innovative apps such as TransferWise, Citymapper and Matt Hancock.MP Matt Hancock releases app called Matt Hancock MP Read more
Matt Hancock, the Conservative MP for West Suffolk, made headlines in February by releasing his own social networ k. Intended as a way for constituents to communicate with him, it was quickly hijacked and became the subject of much social media mirth.
The unwanted Brexit laugh
Chancellors usually get at least one unwanted laugh from the opposition benches during their set-piece speeches, and Hammondâs most awkward moment came, almost inevitably, when discussing Brexit.
âSince the budget, weâve made substantial progress in our negotiations with the European Union,â he declared, to hollow laughter and heckling from the Labour party.
âNo beer, no sandwiches, not even a canapÃ©â
In a deliberate throwback to the language used about the relationship and frequent meetings between Harold Wilson during his time as PM and what the rightwing press called âunion baronsâ, Hammond spoke about a joint meeting between himself, the TUC and the CBI at the national retraining partnership initiative.
âI can reassure the house, Mr Speaker, that there was no beer, no sandwiches, not even a canapÃ©.â
A pantomime ending
The chancellorâs final routine came across as a weird mix of pantomime and evangelical exhortation, as he produced a se ries of soundbites that gave the Tories an excuse to cheer.
âA beacon of enterprise and innovation,â he said. âAn outward-looking free-trading nation,â he urged. âOne that is confident that our best days lie ahead of usâ and âa force for good in the worldâ. The crowd behind him went wild.
- Spring statement 2018
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