Pressure heaps on Rishi Sunak following Spring Statement 2022
A universal panning by the national press of his Spring Statement 2022 appears to have been only the start of an embarrassing few days for Rishi Sunak.
In fact, amid every newspaper including the usually loyal Daily Express and right-leaning Telegraph attacking his ‘Blue Book’, the chancellor came further unstuck at a petrol station.
Filmed on the day of Spring Statement but released after it, footage conceived as a Treasury PR exercise promoting Mr Sunak backfired when he bungled a contactless payment.
Presented by a cashier with a barcode reader so he could scan a Coke, which he was buying alongside some Spring Statement-cut unleaded, Mr Sunak gave up his payment card instead.
'Serious questions to answer'
Social media users not only lashed out at the chancellor, a multi-millionaire, for not knowing the sequence to purchasing an item, but they also criticised him over the car he posed with.
Rather than his Jaguar XF state car, Mr Sunak is seen in the film filling up a Kia Rio – a vehicle which he borrowed from an employee of the forecourt (run by Sainsbury’s).
Meanwhile, the chancellor has heard from Labour he has “serious questions to answer” over his wife’s small shareholding in software giant Infosys, which remains operational in Russia.
The 0.9% stake of Mr Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murthy, in the tech giant owned by her father Narayana Murthy, has even been linked to two dividend payments to her totalling £12million.
Infosys has responded, reportedly saying despite its Moscow office still being open, the tech firm does not have business relationships with local Russian firms which are “active”.
Back in the UK (where the chancellor has said he has “nothing to do with” Infosys), equally high net worth individuals have written to Mr Sunak unhappy at his Spring Statement.
'Make us millionaires contribute more'
“Don't tell [us] multi-millionaires we can ‘volunteer’ to pay more tax,” said Patriotic Millionaires UK, in wake of its open-letter asking him to force them to “contribute more.”
Tweeting after Spring Statement, the group added: “Make us do it. Just as you're making working people do it -- while facing the fastest fall in living standards in decades.”
Awkwardly for Mr Sunak, a much-respected former Conservative chancellor has also taken issue with last Wednesday’s mini-Budget.
Lord Kenneth Clarke, an ex-home secretary too, said Mr Sunak’s Spring Statement could be summarised as “I’ll buy you a pint if you give me the money and I get to keep the change.”
Next day, the Tory peer also posted: “Having spent a night sleeping on it, I’m still bewildered how [the chancellor’s] Tax Plan is any different to the annual fiscal event called the Budget.”
Forgotten Ltd, a lobbyist for limited company workers – individuals widely accepted as being overlooked by the chancellor since the pandemic in March 2020, isn’t surprised by the disquiet at Mr Sunak’s offerings.
'Reality for limited companies for the last two years'
“For some people, the experience of Rishi Sunak saying one thing, and doing another, has been their reality for the last two years,” the lobbyist said on Wednesday, the two-year anniversary of lockdown. “The rest of the country is now living the ‘Forgotten Limited experience.’”
A limited company director reflected: “Too true. My business only survived the lockdowns by my efforts, as we [received] nothing, zilch, zero from [the chancellor]. He sits at home with his riches and has no idea of what real life is like out here. He’s now doing the same with the Spring Statement.”
Another LinkedIn user agreed, writing of Mr Sunak: “Out of touch. Out of ideas and hopefully soon, out of office.”