Chancellor lays on the jokes
By Tony Grew - 9th December 2010
The chancellor has spoken at a lobby lunch today, where he poked fun at reports of Russian spies in Parliament.
George Osborne said Mike Hancock's recent troubles show "you don't have to go to Zurich to get screwed by the Russians".
He also told the assembled journalists the "terrible truth" that the chancellor's famous red box seen on Budget day is locked and the key was lost years ago.
Osborne only found out on the day of the Budget and he has decided to retire the "Gladstone" box - he hopes it will be put on display in the Commons.
The chancellor also said his official robes, worn for more than 150 years, have been missing since Gordon Brown was in the Treasury and are presumably "in a sports bag behind a bookcase in Fife".
Osborne also joked that the MoD, who control the heating in the Treasury building, have kept them in the cold as revenge for the CSR.
"What a bunch of culture secretaries," he joked.
On Wikileaks, he said it was odd that after surveying the British political landscape, the Americans decided to keep an eye on Alan Duncan.
He also told the lobby of his struggle to get a Christmas tree in the Treasury for less than £875 - the tree is provided through a PFI deal.
The chancellor said the coalition is working better than anyone expected, and the decision to have joint media, whipping and policy operations has had a major effect.
He also said Labour will not go into the next election backing a graduate tax as the idea is unworkable.
Osborne also predicted the Tories and Lib Dems would fight as separate parties and contest every seat.