Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Analysis: Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak takes his first steps towards an uncertain destination

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.

Rishi Sunak has been a relatively rare breed among UK Government ministers during the coronavirus crisis to date, in that his reputation seems to have been enhanced rather than ruined.

While many of his Conservative colleagues have been brutally exposed under the pressures of the pandemic, the chancellor’s assured performances and interventions have even led to him being tipped as a future prime minister.

It has been an astonishing ascent by the MP for Richmond (Yorks), who was unknown to most before being parachuted in to replace Sajid Javid in February.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak outside 11 Downing Street, before heading to the House of Commons to deliver his Budget.

Within a month of that appointment, Mr Sunak was delivering his first Budget, which had to be hastily rewritten more than once, not least because the scale of the looming economic catastrophe was beginning to become clear.

Further unprecedented action was required in the weeks that followed, including asking the Treasury to effectively take on the bulk of the wage bill of more than a quarter of the UK’s workforce under the “furlough” scheme.

Mr Sunak has claimed it has been one of the most “generous” offers in the world, and that it has helped to prevent redundancies on a colossal scale.

But while the chancellor has won plaudits for his swift response, he will always have known much more difficult decisions lay in wait further down the road.

A research assistant with coronavirus test samples.

One of the most sensitive among them, and the one that he began to answer in his statement on Friday, has been how and when Mr Sunak would attempt to end the various job support schemes for which he was previously being praised.

Because, as he seemed to admit, redundancies and business closures are certain to follow, and when they do, the government, and Mr Sunak, will find themselves in the firing line.

Another challenge for the chancellor is where he is going to find the money to pay the enormous bill for the various economic interventions, estimated by some to be likely to top an eye-watering £300 billion.

Be it tax rises or spending cuts, whatever path he takes would be fraught with danger for any politician, let alone one with ambitions to become prime minister, if indeed he does.

But if he can find a way to navigate the inbound economic storms successfully, few would bet against him.

Already a subscriber? Sign in



More from The Courier UK politics team

More from The Courier