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03/20/2013

New Brit strategy: Maybe if they are drunk, they won't notice what is in the budget ...

Big news coming out of the British budget – the price of a pint of beer will now be 1 pence less.

You have got to give it to George Osborne, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer. Guess he thought he could mask the bad news of Wednesday’s budget by, ever so  slightly, reducing the price of a pint.

Also in the budget, Osborne revealed the economic growth forecast for 2013 will not be 1.2 per cent as predicted in December, but 0.6 per cent.

That means the British are narrowly avoiding falling into a recession. But it also means the hardline austerity measures taken by Prime Minister David Cameron, three years ago, don’t appear to be performing any magic -- only pain.

Apparently, the London Evening Standard was so enthusiastic with the news on the reduced price of beer that someone on staff tweeted a image grab of the frontpage with the headline, “Things Can Only Get Bitter.”

That move was a big faux pas. On budget day in Canada and Britain, journalists are briefed and allowed to study the budget under strict agreement they won’t release details until the respective finance minister stands up to deliver the deets.

In Westminster, members of the Labour Party were ready for Osborne when he stood up to announce the budget. They jeered and waved photocopies of the Standard’s front page, the Independent reports. 

On the Standard’s website, Editor Sarah Sands posted an apology. “We are devastated that an embargo was breached and offer our heartfelt apologies.”

The unnamed employee who made the mistake has been suspended while an investigation takes place.

Oops.

Tanya Talaga is the Star's Global Economics correspondent. Follow her on Twitter @tanyatalaga

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