Joker Philip Hammond has a laugh with key Tory manifesto pledge
Hammond used the Budget to announce a rise in National Insurance contributions for the self-employed.
Tory MPs were rolling in the aisles as Philip Hammond turned his Budget into something approaching a stand-up comedy routine.
The chancellor joked that Jeremy Corbyn “is now so far down a black hole that even Stephen Hawking has disowned him”.
He declared: “Under the last Labour government corporation tax was 28% – by the way, they don’t call it the last Labour government for nothing.”
And he pledged £70m to “keep the UK at the forefront of disruptive technology such as biotech, robotics systems and driverless vehicles, a technology I believe the party opposite knows something about”.
But Tory MPs were less amused when it emerged that the chancellor might have smashed up a key Tory manifesto pledge - by announcing a rise in National Insurance contributions for the self-employed.
The chancellor said he would increase class 4 national insurance contributions by 1 percentage point to 10% in April 2018, rising again to 11% in 2019.
But the Conservative manifesto ahead of the 2015 election promised that NICs would not rise as part of a five-year "tax lock". It said: "No increases in VAT, National Insurance contributions or Income Tax."
David Cameron also said in speech in December 2015: "We said in our manifesto we would not raise VAT, National Insurance or income tax for the next five years.”
In a chaotic post-Budget briefing, Treasury officials insisted that the announcement did not break the manifesto pledge.
But a number of tweets by senior Tories in 2015 appeared to tell a different story…