The cost of a George Osborne budget joke has soared.
Last year he invested £1 million in a commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt. This seemed to be for no other reason than allowing him to make a terrible joke at former Labour leader Ed Miliband’s expense about a “band of brothers”.
And his £40 million investment in the so-called “internet of things” paved the way for another Miliband gag.
It was something about having remote control of your two kitchens— every bit as bad as the first. That was £41 million for two jokes.
But for this year’s Budget, the chancellor really went big. He used Crossrail 2 as the peg for a joke at Jeremy Corbyn’s expense, describing it as “good for those who live in north London and are heading south”. Crossrail 2 will cost £27 billion—the most expensive Osborne gag yet.
Corbyn got the biggest laugh for his sarcastic observation that only 368 of the promised 15,000 new homes at Ebbsfleet in Kent have been built. But they have been trailed in 30 government announcements, which works out at 12 homes per press release.
“We need a vast increase in press releases,” Corbyn urged.
The housing minister, Brandon Lewis, announced a target of one million houses to be built in England by 2020. Which on Troublemakers’s calculator means it will take more than 83,000 press releases to fulfil that pledge.
A princely sum
Troublemaker was surprised to hear that Prince Andrew rammed his Range Rover through the closed gates of Windsor Great Park.
He caused thousands of pounds of damage because he couldn’t be bothered doing a one-mile detour to his Royal Lodge home. More surprising still to hear the police won’t investigate a formal complaint into it.
Gawd bless em.
Sun distraction of the week
Sun hacks are stuck waiting for Rupert Murduch to decide what attitude to take to EU referendum.
So they went for a story that claimed migrants cost the NHS a fortune. They said treating foreign nationals who didn’t pay “made up part of” about just over 0.005 percent of NHS spending for last year
Angus Dalgleish, the doctor quoted in the article, was a Ukip candidate in the last general election
Tories’ blue sky thinking
David Cameron used to be fond of saying, “Let sunshine win the day.”
His closest policy wonk took this idea to extremes, according to David Laws’ memoir of being in coalition.
Steve Hilton, the PM's former chief strategist, once called a policy pow-wow and announced that, as well as the deficit, he wanted to cut bad weather.
“Why can't we fly planes over the Atlantic,” Hilton mused, “to drop chemicals on the clouds and force them to break up, and get rid of their rain before they get to our shores?”
Javid quiet on banker bonus
Business Secretary Sajid Javid repeatedly refused to reveal if he took part in a tax avoidance scheme.
He declined to answer when asked about his links to the plan while a £3million-a-year director at Deutsche Bank.
Javid dodged the issue six times on Channel 4 News.
He admitted knowing about the scheme but he insisted he never benefited.
Deutsche Bank paid £91 million to 300 staff, awarding them shares in a firm based in the Cayman Islands.