Sajid Javid was openly mocked by an incredulous Jo Coburn and Andrew Neil today, as the culture secretary struggled to explain how the Conservative Party planned to pay for its promised £8bn extra in NHS funding.
On Sunday, George Osborne refused 15 times to explain how he would find the money when asked on the BBC's Andrew Marr programme. Appearing on the BBC's Daily Politics today, Javid was subjected to an equally punishing grilling.
Coburn repeatedly pressed the cabinet minister, who used to be a Treasury minister, on where the money would come from. "Why should we trust the Tories who are saying that they would be able to find £8bn out of thin air?" she asked.
"You're going to have lower taxes, less government debt, a higher NHS budget and you're going to do all of that with no extra borrowing and no further spending cuts. You've become a magician. You're throwing your economic rules out the window."
Coburn pointed out the Conservative plan was unfunded. "Do you think it is economically prudent to promise £8bn of unfunded spending?"
Javid repeatedly refused to say where the money would come from and instead insisted voters should look at the Conservative's track record in government. "I think our track record speaks for itself," he said.
An incredulous Coburn took issue with Javid's defence of the coalition's record on the economy. "You didn't actually do what you were going to do," she insisted. "I'll tell you what I've seen, a failure to clear the deficit when you said you would clear the deficit. Your other record is you said you would have debt falling as a proportion of GDP in this parliament, you failed on that too."
Neil, Coburn's co-presenter chipped in with some mockery of his own at the end of the interview. "He's found a magic money tree. Where is this magic money tree? Where are you hiding it? The viewers have the right to know where this magic money tree is that you've stumbled across."
In 2013, David Cameron attacked Labour for thinking there was a "magic money tree" that could fund the Opposition's spending commitments. Today that attack was turned back on him.
The argument on the Daily Politics was sparked after Javid attacked a “worthless” promise from Ed Miiband today that Labour would be fiscally responsible. Miliband used his manifesto launch to tackle directly the idea that he could not be trusted to manage the economy.