Budget 2009: All the odds


By Ian Dunt

With hours to go until the Budget, bookmakers are putting out odds on even the weirdest details of proceedings.

From how many sips of water Alistair Darling will have to how long his speech will last, all the bases are covered.

Want to know the chance Darling will quit during the speech? 100/1, courtesy of William Hill. The chance he'll wear a pink tie? 5/2, apparently, but be aware - the "predominant colour wins".

There's even money on the chancellor sipping from his water three times or more during his speech, 3/1 that he does so twice, 7/2 that he does so once, and 5/1 that he won't do so at all.

As for the length of the speech:

Under 46 minutes - 7/1

46 to 50 minutes - 7/2

51 to 55 minutes - 4/1

56 to 60 minutes - 5/1

61 to 65 minutes - 6/1

66 to 70 minutes - 7/1

71 to 75 minutes - 8/1

76 to 80 minutes - 10/1

Over 80 minutes - 12/1

Last year's speech, for the record, was 50 minutes and 25 seconds.

On more serious matters, the odds make interesting reading. Bookies appear to think Gordon Brown's apology for the Damian McBride email scandal has opened the floodgates, with 5/1 being offered on Darling saying sorry at some point in the speech.

As for the long term, darling is 1/9 to remain chancellor during 2009, and 5/1 to leave his job before the end of the year.

George Osborne has odds of 2/5 to be the next chancellor, but Ken Clarke snaps at his heels with 4/1.

And for the traditional 'how much more will my fags cost me' betting, things are pretty much the same as ever.

The odds of cigarettes going up by 12p or more stand at 6/4, while they're 6/5 on beer going up by 5p per pint or more.

There's even money that the chancellor will announce a VAT rate of over 17.5 per cent.


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