Today could be George Osborne's last Budget as chancellor. With just 50-days to go until the general election, one of the most political of chancellors is expected to deliver his most political Budget. Many are expecting pre-election tax cuts or other sweeteners. But despite their financial and electoral importance, Budget speeches themselves can be quite dry affairs. Yet over the last five years the chancellor's statements have been punctuated by some more memorable moments, here are five of them.
1. The 'Pasty Tax'
The Budget of 2012 was probably the low point of Osborne's career to date. A series of missteps led it it being labelled, to borrow a term from The Thick Of It, the "omnishambles" Budget. Nothing symbolised the mistakes more than the so-called 'Pasty Tax'. The imposition of VAT on all food sold "above ambient temperature" sent TV cameras scurrying to the nearest Greggs to film reactions. The debacle also led Osborne being grilled by Labour on when he last bought a pasty and being compared to Marie Antoinette.
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2. The gourmet burger
In 2013, Osborne decided to lift the (styrofoam) lid on his Budget preparations. With a tweet on the evening of June 25, the chancellor let voters know he was munching on a burger while putting the finishing touches to the economic plan. However after much investigation it turned out that his dinner was not a man-of-the-people McDonalds, but rather it was a gourmet burger from Byron which set him back a less than austerity-friendly £9.70.
3. Read all about it!
It is against the rules to leak the details of the Budget before the chancellor reads them out. A rule that got the Evening Standard and the Treasury into trouble. The Standard, as previously, was given advanced information on the Budget under embargo in order to allow the newspaper to hit the stands on time. However in 2013 the newspaper accidentally tweeted its front page just as George Osborne stood up in the Commons to speak. Gleeful Labour frontbenchers were handed printouts of the paper and waved them at the chancellor. The Standard said it was "devastated" by what happened and Osborne was forced to instigate an internal Treasury investigation.
4. Beer and bingo
2014, the year after the ominshambles Budget that almost wrecked Osborne's reputation, passed without too much trouble. Until after the speech was delivered. Step up the Conservative campaign machine. Grant Shapps highlighted cuts bingo and beer tax with a graphic and the claim that it was "helping hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy". The poster backfired spectacularly, with people attacking the Tories for patronising and stereotyping the working class.
5. Magna Carta humour is the best kind of humour
Budgets aren't really funny. But in 2014 Osborne did manage to shoe-horn in a pretty good gag at Ed Miliband's expense. "We will also support celebration of the 800 anniversary of the singing of the Magna Carta next year," he told MPs. "King John's humbling defeat centuries ago seems unimaginably distant. A weak leader who had risen to the top after betraying his brother, compelled by a gang of unruly barons to sign on the dotted line. I will provide a grant to he Magna Carta trust to ensure today's generation learn the lessons of the past." Even Miliband had to laugh and it might be the first time the chancellor made a spending commitment purely to justify a joke.