Budget 2018: Philip Hammond jokes about rabbits, toilets and fiscal rules during speech

The chancellor's 'Hammo House of Horrors' was packed full of awful puns

Peter Stubley
Tuesday 30 October 2018 00:16
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Philip Hammond jokes during 2018 Budget: 'Philip, that one day could be you'

Philip Hammond’s attempt to replace austerity with hilarity was greeted with a chorus of groans across the UK.

The chancellor bolstered his reputation for making terrible jokes by packing his budget speech with at least 50 per cent more puns than last year.

Some of his gags were so bad it left many wondering how many of his lines were actually intended to be funny. Was “full fiscal event” just a bit of economic jargon or a failed punchline?

His nostalgic opening gag was reminiscent of the Monty Python sketch where a king gestures towards the view from his castle window and tells his son and heir: “One day lad, all this will be yours!” And the young prince replies: “What? The curtains?”

Mr Hammond’s version left his audience to work out their own punchline. “It was 1962, I was 6 years old, tensions between Russia and the United States were rising and a former foreign secretary turned chancellor delivered a budget amid cabinet revolt. And I remember my parents turning to me and saying: ‘Philip, that could be you one day.’"

The chancellor attempted to come up with possible newspaper headlines if he had delivered his budget on Halloween (“Hammo House of Horrors” or in December “Spreadsheet Phil turns Santa Claus”.

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Then came the dig at the backbenchers rumoured to be plotting against the prime minister over her Brexit plans. “The truth is I have not avoided the blood-curdling threats, the anguished wailing, and the strange banging of furniture that is usually associated with Wednesday. I have kindly been invited to a special meeting of the 1922 committee this evening.”

His boasts about meeting his financial targets three years early led to Mr Hammond giving himself a new nickname. “Fiscal Phil says: Fiscal Rules OK.”

Tory MPs responded with loud shouts of: “More, more!”.

Mr Hammond obliged by joking about the number of announcements that had already been announced. “You will know better than most that every chancellor likes to have a rabbit or two in his hat as he approaches a budget,” he said.

“But this year, some of my star bunnies seem to have escaped just a little early!”

Perhaps sensing how badly his jokes were going down, he resorted to self-deprecation. “Even I would admit that at the last two budgets I might have given the House just a little bit more detailed information on productivity enhancement and technological innovation than it strictly needed!”

He was on firmer ground with his joke about Nick Clegg who has recently been hired by Facebook. Announcing plans to impose a “digital services tax” on global corporations such as Amazon, he added: “I am already looking forward to my call from the former Leader of the Liberal Democrats.”

Sadly, this was followed by a sustained bout of toilet humour as Mr Hammond revealed a new business rate relief for public lavatories.

“So that local authorities can, at last, relieve themselves. For the convenience of the House, Mr Deputy Speaker,” he said.

“And without wishing to get unduly bogged down in this subject, the House will be interested to know … well at least I am demonstrating that we are all British … this relief will extend to any such facilities made available for public use, whether publicly or privately owned.

“Honestly, Mr Deputy Speaker, this is virtually the only announcement in this Budget that hasn’t leaked.”

John McDonnell’s recent facial injury, which he sustained tripping over rubbish on his way home, was also targeted. “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.”

Perhaps his best line was an ad-lib. After announcing he would confirm the final remit of the Low Pay Commission “at the Budget next year”, Labour MP Paula Sherriff shouted: “You won’t be here.”

Mr Hammond responded: “I hear the honourable lady but her point is slightly muted as she made in it the autumn of 2016 and again in the autumn of last year.”

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