UK

Rishi’s ready for his close up! Hoodie-clad Chancellor prepares for Spending Review

Rishi Sunak has released new carefully posed pictures as he ran through his lines ahead of tomorrow’s Spending Review announcement.

The Chancellor was wearing his favoured grey hoodie as he worked through documents in his red box in his flat above 11 Downing Street.

Other catalogue model-style snaps, released by the Treasury today, show him in the offices of the central London house with team members.

It comes ahead of his Spending Review announcement where he is expected to ready billions of pounds more for infrastructure, the NHS and defence.

The Chancellor is seen wearing his favoured grey hoodie as he worked through documents in his red box in his flat above 11 Downing Street

The pictures show Mr Sunak pointing as he addresses colleagues from behind a desk, as well as posing with two Union flags with his glasses on and hoodie removed

The pictures show Mr Sunak pointing as he addresses colleagues from behind a desk, as well as posing with two Union flags with his glasses on and hoodie removed

He is pictured posing with two Union flags with his glasses on and hoodie removed in other snaps

He is pictured posing with two Union flags with his glasses on and hoodie removed in other snaps

Pictured: The Chancellor

Another of the carefully taken photographs shows him pontificating over a document on his red box

Another of the carefully taken photographs shows him pontificating over a document on his red box

The pictures also show Mr Sunak pointing as he addresses colleagues from behind a desk, as well as posing with two Union flags with his glasses on and hoodie removed.

And another sees the Chancellor swap the pullover for his suit jacket as he is handed a document by a member of his staff.

The images are from Simon Walker at the Treasury, a photographer who Mr Sunak pinched from the Times newspaper who is thought to be on £60,000-a-year.

One of the pieces of art on show is by Australian-born British painter Henry Lamb, titled Girl Knitting, Portrait of Felicia, the Artist’s Younger Daughter.

But social media users have poked fun at the selection of snaps, with some questioning his sartorial choice of a hoodie and a tie.

One man wrote: ‘Gutted we’ve got the same lamp as Sunak, but at least I don’t wear a hoodie over a shirt and tie.’

And another sees the Chancellor swap the pullover for his suit jacket as he is handed a document by a member of his staff

And another sees the Chancellor swap the pullover for his suit jacket as he is handed a document by a member of his staff

He practises his Spending Review announcement - which comes on Wednesday - during the pictures

He practises his Spending Review announcement – which comes on Wednesday – during the pictures

The images are from Simon Walker at the Treasury, a photographer who Mr Sunak pinched from the Times newspaper who is thought to be on £60,000 a year

Pictured: Mr Sunak

The images are from Simon Walker at the Treasury, a photographer who Mr Sunak pinched from the Times newspaper who is thought to be on £60,000 a year

One photograph shows the Chancellor having a late-night session reading through his red box

One photograph shows the Chancellor having a late-night session reading through his red box

Broadcaster Andrew Neil even weighed into the debate, posting on Twitter: ‘Who wears a tie with a hoodie.’

Meanwhile a journalist photoshopped the image so the Chancellor’s grey hoodie had his signature on it.

Another person asked how the photographer made Mr Sunak, who is thought to be 5ft 6in, look so tall.

Next to a picture of him behind a table, they wrote: ‘We know that Rishi Sunak is a small man, so what is going on here? A small desk? Is he standing on a box?’

One more social media user questioned the choice of art on the walls, commenting: ‘Spending cuts abound, can’t even afford a decent painting.’

 

The Chancellor, dubbed ‘Dishy Rishi’ for his good looks, has previously defended ‘Brand Rishi’, which has seen his online following explode.

He said in July he wants to get the Government’s message across and that if it means ‘they poke fun at me in the process’ then ‘so be it’.

The minister had been mocked for posting graphics and soft-focus pictures overlaid with his signature and artistic text on social media.

He also posted moody snaps ahead of his Winter Economy Plan in September and released snaps after visit to a Wagamama during Eat Out to Help Out in July.

But he told the Today programme earlier this year: ‘This is about communication, and the way we communicate is changing.

‘We’ve seen a change in how people engage with the way they get their news, and the way they get their information.

‘I’m keen to try and get our message across to as many people as possible and engage them, and if that means they poke some fun at me in the process so be it if it means they’re talking about what we’re doing and debating it.’

The Chancellor will use the spending review on Wednesday to push ahead with huge investment on schools, hospitals, colleges and prisons to meet election pledges.

He has signalled tax rises will be put off until the ‘fog of uncertainty’ caused by the pandemic has lifted.

The respected Institute for Fiscal Studies said this week they might not happen until 2025, after the next election.

But the foreign aid budget is likely to be trimmed by at least £4billion under plans to ‘temporarily’ jettison the vow to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on aid.

And Mr Sunak is set to press ahead with a pay freeze for five million public sector workers, despite strike threats from the TUC.  

IFS chief Paul Johnson said he would be surprised if Mr Sunak moved to tax rises any time soon

IFS chief Paul Johnson said he would be surprised if Mr Sunak moved to tax rises any time soon

But he ruled out wider spending cuts, saying: ‘You will not see austerity next week, what you will see is an increase in Government spending, on day-to-day public services, quite a significant one coming on the increase we had last year.’

In a series of interviews ahead of this week’s comprehensive spending review, the Chancellor acknowledged that the pandemic had triggered an ‘economic shock’ that would require tough decisions on tax and spending in future.

But he played down reports that major tax rises could be brought in as early as the Budget next spring.

Mr Sunak said he was already ‘doing the work’ on a costly new scheme to ‘incentivise’ employers to take on extra staff in the New Year. 

And officials were working on a ‘range of other schemes’ designed to copy the success of Eat Out To Help Out.

Treasury officials are looking at potential tax hikes in future, including cutting pension tax relief for higher earners and raising capital gains tax.

Middle-class may be hit by pensions relief raid

The Chancellor is mulling over reviving plans for a raid on middle-class pensions that would save him £4billion a year – amid £2.08trillion of national debt.

Mr Sunak is said to be ‘very attracted’ to a 25 per cent flat rate of pensions tax relief.

Under the current system, those saving for a pension receive relief at the same rate as their income tax. It means basic rate taxpayers receive relief at 20 per cent and higher rate taxpayers at 40 per cent.

Pensions experts yesterday said the proposed raid could be awkward as doctors would be hit – as the Treasury also threatens to freeze public sector pay.

Mr Sunak will unveil his spending review on Wednesday. Meanwhile the British Medical Association claims that more than £10billion in extra NHS funding is needed – just to tackle the care backlog caused by coronavirus.

But asked about potential tax rises yesterday, Mr Sunak said: ‘There’s an appropriate time to get public finances on a sustainable track. 

‘Right now the right economic response is to focus on tackling the virus. 

‘It wouldn’t be right to try and make them now in the fog of enormous economic uncertainty.’ 

IFS chief Paul Johnson said this morning that he would be surprised if Mr Sunak moved to tax rises any time soon, with the costs of servicing debt at very low levels, although they were likely to be needed in the ‘long run’.

‘It is even possible they might come after the next election,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, pointing out that most increases came in the year after a poll.

‘It is not something that is super urgent as we come out of this crisis.’ 

This week Mr Sunak will publish forecasts suggesting the UK is on course for a budget deficit nudging £400billion – almost three times the level seen at the height of the financial crisis.

The Treasury said Mr Sunak would unveil an extra £1.25billion for new prisons, taking the total to £4billion over the next four years. 

This will create 18,000 additional places.

Hundreds of millions of pounds is set to be earmarked for the target of recruiting 20,000 police officers, beyond the £750million announced last year.

School spending will increase by £2.2billion, up from £47.6billion to £49.8billion in the next financial year, with a promise that 50 school building and repair projects will be carried out annually over the course of this parliament.

Mr Sunak will also reaffirm existing commitments, including the hiring of 50,000 new nurses, the delivery of 50million extra GP appointments and £3.7billion for long-term investment in 40 hospitals.

Asked yesterday if he needed someone to fine the PM when he spends too much, Mr Sunak joked: ‘I like that idea. I should take his credit card away.’ 

Meanwhile, plans for a freeze on public sector pay continued to generate outrage from trade unions yesterday. 

Nurses and doctors are set to be exempted due to their heroics during the pandemic. 

But asked about possible strike action, TUC general-secretary Frances O’Grady told Sky News: ‘Governments only seem to recognise the true value of labour when it’s withdrawn… nobody can rule anything out at the moment.’


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