After getting all the bad news out of the way well beforehand, Chancellor George Osborne was able to paint a much rosier picture during the first purely Conservative budget for 19 years than many thought possible just two short months ago.
It wasn’t all good news and consensus, with Osborne ploughing ahead with £12bn in welfare cuts, although the pace of the reductions will be slowed from two to three years.
Indeed, the Cheshire MP went for the rich as well as the poor by tightening the rules on non-domiciled tax status, a policy that played well when floated by former Labour leader Ed Miliband ahead of May’s General Election.
There was a good story for Osborne to tell though, with the Office for Budget Responsibility’s figures confirming that a surplus is on course for the end of this Parliament, without choking off the fastest growing fully-developed economy on the planet.
Crucially, the 44-year-old struck a blow against likely future Tory leadership challenger Boris Johnson by parking his fiscal tanks slap-bang on the Mayor of London’s lawn, with the introduction of a National Living Wage the final act of the set-piece.
The subsequent argument over whether Osborne actually announced a Living Wage or just a big hike in the Minimum Wage is irrelevant, as the Tories have come good on their pre-election pledge to give the country a pay rise.
Ladbrokes make Osborne the 5/2 favourite to take over as Conservative leader when David Cameron steps down ahead of the next General Election, ahead of 11/4 shot Boris, and the wallpaper baron also heads the market to be next Prime Minister alongside his great rival at 3/1.
There’ll be other battles ahead with the Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP, who’ll dig his heels in over the EU referendum and aviation expansion during the next couple of years, but the strategically-savvy Chancellor has clearly come through round one ahead on points.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £25 in free bets.