WESTMINSTER. Government budgets are too big to understand; the best fiscal policy is pure luck; large budgets are more easily understood when converted into an equivalent number of expensive bottles of champagne. Those were among the surprises revealed today by the Chancellor, who, in a rare unguarded - and possibly inebriated - press conference at the Treasury, revealed perhaps more than he intended about the genesis of the government’s fiscal policy.
“I mean, let’s be honest, pretty much nobody understand numbers once they get above a billion”, the Chancellor said, responding to a journalist who had asked if the Chancellor fully understood the scale of the cuts being proposed in the forthcoming budget.. “If somebody says to me, what’s the difference between £200 and £300, I’d say, easy - a nice lunch in Mayfair with a glass of champagne. But if someone says what’s the different between £20 billion and £30 billion, I think it’s fair to say that no one really knows.
Is this government department worth £20 billion a year or £30 billion? Really, it hurts your brain if you try and think about what that difference of £10 billion means. It makes more sense to use something you really understand the value of, so I use Dom Pérignon ‘61, which I think everyone can relate to. For example, this year we have to pay down £47 billion in interest on our debt. How much is that? Is it a lot? It’s just a number. But if I tell you that it works out as 117,500,000 bottles of Dom Pérignon ‘61 then I think you’ll agree that fuck yeah, that’s a lot.”