It is not often that the Leader of the Opposition applauds a government's Budget as “genius”.
Yet as he sat across from Alistair Darling and listened to the Chancellor deliver his main sweetener, stamp duty relief for first-time buyers, it was the word an exasperated David Cameron chose to describe the measure.
The mocking praise, as he threw up his hands in incredulity, barely masked his frustration at the Government's decision to cherrypick a policy he said his party had backed three years ago.
The Tory leader said that the Government should be ashamed of its management of the economy, adding that it had only brought “debt, waste and tax” in return for overseeing a ballooning deficit that will see Britain borrow £167bn this year.
The captain of the Titanic, Richard Nixon, and disgraced newspaper proprietor Robert Maxwell were all invoked by Mr Cameron to illustrate his assessment of the trustworthiness of Gordon Brown's government following the Budget, which he attacked for stealing Tory policies and delivering more questionable growth figures.
Tory figures were fuming that what Mr Cameron described as “Labour's big idea”, raising the stamp duty threshold for first-time buyers to £250,000, had been stolen from them.
He also said two other policies, the steep increase in duty on cider and the funding of further university places, had been pickpocketed from Tory plans. The “only new ideas in British politics” were coming from his party, he said.