Chancellor’s job hard enough: Rishi Sunak on prime ministerial ambitions

Chancellor’s job hard enough: Rishi Sunak on prime ministerial ambitions

Rishi Sunak was forced to dismiss speculation around him taking over as Britain’s first Global Indian Prime Minister any time soon, as he stressed that his job as the Chancellor of the Exchequer was hard enough.

With his handling of a Covid-hit economy largely a hit in the popularity rankings, there has been growing speculation in recent weeks around Sunak being ready to swap his current address as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s neighbour at 11 Downing Street for the top job next door at Number 10 Downing Street.

"No, definitely not. Seeing what the Prime Minister has to deal with, this is a job hard enough for me to do," Sunak said, when asked outright.

Mutual trust

In an interview following his first speech as Chancellor to the Conservative Party’s annual conference this week, Sunak – who is married to Infosys Co-Founder Narayana Murthy's daughter Akshata – also spoke about his close bond with his boss next door and how his children enjoyed playing with the UK PM's pet dog Dilyn.

The 40-year-old senior Cabinet minister, who has earned himself the moniker “Dishy Rishi”, said: "He [Johnson] trusted me with this job which I am very grateful to him for, and he and I have a close personal friendship, and that spreads through the teams.

“There is an enormous amount of mutual trust between our teams. So as a building it operates really well, which I think is really important."

In a free-wheeling chat with businesses during the party conference, being held virtually for the first time due to the coronavirus constraints, Sunak also revealed that Johnson called him Rish but he stuck to Prime Minister despite the duo being “personally close”. He also gave some insights into his fitness routine, which mostly involves a treadmill or his smart Peloton exercise bike before he’s at his desk just before 8am.

Hard choices

In his speech aimed at Tory delegates, the Richmond (Yorks) MP promised to keep a tight control of the UK’s finances despite the economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus outbreak. The minister, who is in charge of Britain’s financial response to the impact of the pandemic on jobs and businesses, admitted that “hard choices are everywhere” but pledged that he won’t stop trying to “find ways to support people and businesses”.

“We will protect the public finances. Over the medium term getting our borrowing and debt back under control. We have a sacred responsibility to future generations to leave the public finances strong, and through careful management of our economy, this Conservative government will always balance the books,” he said.

“I will always be pragmatic. The Winter Economy Plan announced only two weeks ago is but the latest stage of our planned economic response. I will keep listening, keep striving to be creative in response to the challenges our economy faces, and where I can, I will act. I will not give up, no matter how difficult it is,” he noted.

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