Funny old game, the Autumn Statement

As we near the end of the coalition, two things have become clear abut the Chancellor - his debt predictions are getting worse but his jokes are getting better.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls

This year the Chancellor will borrow £5bn more than predicted. If you ask Ed Balls, (or don’t, he’ll tell you anyway), since 2010 the Government has borrowed £219bn more than it planned.

That’s the sort of big number the public has become a little numb to, and you can tell the George knows that.

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Besides , why dwell on figures when the man at the box is practising to be the First Lord of Topical Humour?

Adrian Pearson yp staff

For example, on announcing funding for a Mars mission, the Chancellor said “we on this side have long gazed at the red planet opposite looking for signs of intelligent life, or any life.”

No? Maybe you had to be there. What about a Wallace and Gromit gag?

Mr Osborne revealed support for the animation industry, and said the House will have been saddened to learn Wallace is to disappear from our screens as the voice actor had retired.

Fear not, he suggested a solution. With all eyes on the Wallace-loolalike leader of the opposition, Mr Osborne said he knew someone who would soon be out of work and happy to apply. He meant Ed.

You might not be laughing, but Tory MPs loved it, shouting “more cheese” but strangely only winding up Ed Balls.

The shadow chancellor had already had his own taunting in the earlier Prim Minister’s Questions. MPs were left a baffled when David Cameron tried to accuse Ed of political sadomasochism but ended up saying the MP was the first example of political maso-sadism.

The PM corrected himself, saying the shadow chancellor can give it out but can’t take it.

As this is a family newspaper, we’ll leave the gags there.