They've got his number: Osborne dodges basic maths question

Alex Stevenson By

George Osborne's reputation for being good with numbers has taken another blow, after he dodged a maths question asked by a seven-year-old.

The chancellor was being interviewed by a panel of children while on Sky News when he was asked what number you get when you multiply seven by the number eight.

He replied: "I've made it a rule in life not to answer a whole load of maths questions."

The same challenging times-table question was asked of then-junior education minister Stephen Byers in 1998. Byers made the mistake of answering: "Fifty-four."

But Osborne's decision to dodge the question appears to vindicate the 2012 stunt by BBC comedians Heydon Prowse and Jolyon Rubenstein, in which the chancellor was handed a GCSE maths book at a Mansion House dinner.

Osborne suggested he would go even further with his austerity agenda if he had his time in power again.

"I look back and think there's even more we could have done to fix some of the economic problems and I want to go on therefore taking decisions that will help create jobs," he said.

"If anything, it's like I wish we'd done even more."

He also defended the "passion" of PMQs, despite warnings from one interviewer that it could be viewed by children as making "shouting" acceptable.

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