23 Mar 2011

Ken Clarke’s Budget day power nap?

Does our video show former chancellor Ken Clarke falling asleep during George Osborne’s Budget? And is that Danny Alexander providing refreshments? Channel 4 News takes a look.

Did Ken Clarke, former chancellor of the exchequer, fall asleep during the Budget?

It looked that way as George Osborne delivered his statement to MPs in the House of Commons.

Mr Clarke sat on the Government front bench while Osborne delivered his 56-minute Budget statement. But eye-opening details on inflation and the structural deficit appeared to subdue the justice secretary for around three minutes.

Labour MPs were quick to point out the veteran of No. 11 could be snatching a power nap. Ed Miliband, Labour leader, said Mr Osborne’s growth strategy must have proved too much for the 70-year-old.

Budget 2011: did Ken Clarke nod off? (Reuters)

(Put your feet up Ken? The former chancellor’s famous battered Hush Puppies. Picture – Reuters)

Mr Miliband said: “Indeed the justice secretary fell asleep during the chancellor’s speech, his growth strategy was so compelling.”

But a spokesman for the man who served as chancellor in John Major’s government dismissed the allegation, telling the Press Association: “Of course he didn’t fall asleep.”

However, bookmaker Ladbrokes says it is paying out on bets at 16/1 that Mr Clarke would drop off during the Budget.

Danny, pass the water

George Osborne grew hoarse at several points during his statement to the Commons. And his dry mouth appeared to create a new role for Lib Dem colleague Danny Alexander.

The chief secretary to the Treasury became chief water-boy as he was tapped on the shoulder and passed a note – presumably reading “Get the man a drink.”

Mr Alexander appeared to pause and think before picking his moment and swooping in to replenish Mr Osborne’s water glass.