Bullingdon Budget: Let them drink beer

TIME to raise a (pint) glass to George Osborne, after the chancellor went for the popular vote by scrapping a planned rise in beer duty in yesterday’s Budget.

Those who still uphold the tradition of the long City lunch will cheer the 1p-a-pint saving that’ll kick in from this Sunday, but may be disheartened by speedy calculations from the beancounters at PwC, who say that the saving per jar works out at just one free beer for every 300 consumed.

But Osborne appears unlikely to benefit from his own largesse. While previous chancellors have made use of the old rule that they could enjoy a Budget tipple at the despatch box – Ken Clarke favoured a glass of whisky and Geoffrey Howe a gin and tonic for example – Osborne kept sober again this year.

His choice of water refreshment was a source of consternation for spreadbetting firm Sporting Index, which was banking on him taking 4.6 to five sips of water, instead of the mere four gulps that he swallowed during his 55-minute speech.

Thankfully the chancellor kept stumm on his new Twitter account – launched mere hours ahead of the Budget. A spy at Ladbrokes told The Capitalist that the ommission saved it from a hefty payout.

But buzzword “hard-working families” saw Ladbrokes’ luck run out with the numerous mentions of the phrase costing the bookie almost five times more than its payout for the 2011 Budget when Ken Clarke was caught napping.

■ ONCE the bars shut on a Friday night Canary Wharf tends to become something of a ghost town. But not last week, when City workers from BNY Mellon, Barclays, Credit Suisse, KPMG and Clifford Chance spent a cold night on the streets surrounding the area’s skyscrapers. Braving the capital’s seemingly endless winter, they took to their sleeping bags to launch homeless charity Centrepoint’s Canary Wharf Sleep Out, which will see Docklands-dwellers camp out overnight in November. The Capitalist caught up with Clifford Chance managing partner David Bickerton (pictured) after his night sleeping rough, and the solicitor boasted that the firm’s lawyers are “used to all-nighters”. He also pointed out: “The difference is, when you work somewhere like Clifford Chance, you wake up with hope each morning.” Let’s hope those trainees doing all-nighters feel the same way.