But he began Wednesday’s 60-minute speech with a self-deprecating put-down at his own expense.
We take a look at the eight best ‘Budget bantz’ from Philip Hammond:
1. The last ‘last’ Spring Budget
Before Hammond got on to announcing any new measures, he reminded MPs of how the last Chancellor to proclaim they would deliver the last Spring Budget had suffered weeks later.
“This will be the last Spring Budget. The Treasury has helpfully reminded me that I am not the first Chancellor to announce the last Spring Budget.
24 years ago, Norman Lamont also presented what was billed then as the last Spring Budget.ADVERTISEMENT
He reported on an economy that was growing faster than any country in the G7, and he committed to continued restraint in public spending.
The then Prime Minister described it as the right budget at the right time from the right Chancellor.
What they failed to remind me was that 10 weeks later he was sacked, so wish me luck today.”
2. Nickname gets a namecheck
Hammond has long been dubbed ‘Spreadsheet Phil’, with the BBC’s Nicholas Watt writing: “For years Philip Hammond has been dubbed the ultimate boring accountant whose idea of fun is to spend his holidays poring over spreadsheets.”
Paying homage to that name, Hammond began lifting the lid on the detail of his Budget by saying:
“This is the spreadsheet bit...”
3. EU-r so funny
No Tory Budget speech would be complete without a dig at the EU, and this time it was Jean Claude-Juncker who was the butt of the joke.
“Overall, public sector net borrow as a percentage of GDP is predicted to fall from 3.8% last year to 2.6% this year, and for those who care about such things it means we are forecast to meet our 3% EU stability and growth pact target for the first time in almost a decade.
But I won’t won’t hold my breath for my congratulatory letter from Jean-Claude Juncker.”
4. Brown’s Budget bash
It wasn’t long before Labour came under fire, and it was a particularly scathing and off-the-cuff rejoinder from Hammond that set the tone.
“Under the last Labour government, corporation tax was 28%. By the way - they don’t call it the last Labour government for nothing.”
5. May gets her own back
Hammond attempted to capitalise on the Budget falling on International Women’s Day to score a light-hearted point over the PM.
Jokingly bemoaning Theresa May trailing several of the Budget announcements before the speech itself, he said:
“I am delighted to use the occasion of International Women’s Day to announce three additional measures - well now, not quite announce, because the Prime Minister has already announced two of them.”
To much laughter from Conservative ministers and backbenchers, May hit back” “It’s International Women’s Day”.
6. Hawking at Corbyn
It wasn’t long before the Labour leader found himself on the receiving end of another withering putdown.
Following the news scientist Stephen Hawking had branded Corbyn a “disaster”, Hammond managed to fit in:
“He’s so far down a black hole that even Stephen Hawking has disowned him.”
It’s safe to say Corbyn did not see the funny side and sat there stoneyfaced.
7. Sticking with science...
Hammond stuck with the science theme to follow up with another attack on Corbyn, this time likening his leadership of the Labour party to a “driverless vehicle”.
“I’m allocating ... £270m to keep the UK at the forefront of disruptive technologies like biotech, robotics systems and driverless vehicles, a technology I believe the party opposite know something about.”
The SNP didn’t escape a joke either, as Hammond announced millions more pounds in funding for each of the devolved administrations.
Gesturing to the SNP benches for a cheer that never arrived - much to the Tories’ amusement - Hammond proclaimed:
“For the devolved administrations, our announcements today deliver an additional funding of £350m for the Scottish Government...”
It seems, though, that not everyone was convinced by his comic performance.