Like a magician taking center stage, Britain's Chancellor George Osborne entered the House of Commons with his box of tricks. He waited until the finale before producing the proverbial rabbit out of the hat during a 70-minute budget speech.
To a packed chamber he announced Britain's first ever official living wage -- eventually to be worth nine pounds (about 14 U.S. dollars) an hour.
Osborne had other tricks up his sleeve as he unveiled proposals setting out government spending plans for the next few years.
The main opposition Labor party viewed his speech to the House of Commons as a sleight of hand, citing the devastating impact 12 billion pounds of welfare cuts will have on the out-of-work and low income families.
Osborne is to cut business corporation tax to 19 percent in 2017 and 18 percent in 2020, saying it sent a loud and clear message around the world that Britain is open for business.
Continuing the mantra that Britain supports working families, he announced plans to raise allowances, meaning anybody earning less than 12,500 pounds a year won't pay a penny in tax.
Although the message has always been "we're all in it together," low-income families living on benefits and tax credits will take a hammering. Those families mostly live in Labor heartlands.
From April, 2017 tax credits -- worth 2,780 pounds per child -- will only be paid for the first two children. It poses the prospect a summer of love around June 2016 for couples eager to beat the deadline.
Osborne said Britain would honor its pledge to NATO to keep the defense budget at 2 percent of the country's total national budget until the end of the decade.
He told MPs: "Our long-term economic plan is working. But the greatest mistake this country could make would be to think all our problems are solved. We have only to look at the crisis unfolding in Greece as I speak to realize that, if a country is not in control of its borrowing, the borrowing takes control of the country."
"We are moving Britain from a high welfare, high tax economy to a lower welfare, lower tax society," Osbourne added.
For the next few days, opposition politicians will crawl over every word of the budget speech as well as the accompanying small print. Their aim will be to show much of what Osborne unveiled during his act was more bluff and hot air than political magic.