Sketch: Comedy Phil left Tories cheering and Corbyn seething
PUBLISHED: 17:49 08 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:49 08 March 2017
Philip Hammond had a hard act to follow in delivering his first budget.
His predecessor George Osborne relished the parliamentary stage. He made sure he had a hearty backing track from his backbenchers as he spelt out his fiscal masterpieces.
The expectation was that ‘Spreadsheet Phil’ - the nickname of the government’s money man - would be a little less of a schmoozer.
Certainly his backbenchers were less rowdy than they were in the Osborne days.
The deputy speaker made an easy living, he hardly intervened as the budget was delivered.
Yet it was not short on jibes.
There were chuckles as Mr Hammond imitated the famous hand gestures of the former shadow chancellor Ed Balls - not in the ballroom, but in his pre-Strictly days of goading Mr Osborne. It seems the ghost of Norwich City Football Club chairman continues to loom large in the Commons.
There was amusement when in talking about the past Labour government’s corporation tax, he mocked: “They don’t call it the last Labour government for nothing”. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was generally stony-faced. Particularly so when in a nod to academic Stephen Hawking’s criticism Mr Hammond told MPs: “Jeremy Corbyn is now so far down a black hole that even Stephen Hawking has disowned him”. Labour’s parallels to driverless car went down almost as badly with the under-fire leader. As the Chancellor drew to a close Conservatives waved their order papers, they laughed and they cheered. What really matters is if they continue to do so in the cold light of day.