The Chancellor’s self-promotion and prominent position in the Cabinet have led him to be dubbed Dishy Rishi by his admirers. And in the run-up to Wednesday’s Budget, Sunak has hardly been camera shy.
The 40-year-old posted an almost six-minute-long video on Twitter on Monday reflecting on his past year in No 11 – which has since been viewed more than 700,000 times.
And photographs of the Chancellor speaking to people who have been helped by government support schemes during the pandemic were shared on the Treasury’s Flickr page on Tuesday.
The pictures, taken by an in-house photographer, also included one of Sunak speaking to Treasury staff and sitting in an armchair as he made “final preparations for the Budget”.
He has previously been mocked for posting graphics and soft-focus pictures overlaid with his signature and artistic text on social media.
Another so-called “Brand Rishi” tweet was posted on Monday announcing that, unlike his predecessors, he will host a post-Budget press conference on Wednesday evening. And he will be interviewed on The Martin Lewis Money Show Live on ITV on Thursday.
All of which has raised eyebrows in Westminster and seen the Chancellor installed as the 5/2 favourite to be next prime minister by Ladbrokes.
But he has been mocked on Twitter this week after a video resurfaced of him telling school pupils that he is a “total coke addict” – before clarifying that he meant the fizzy drink, not the class A drug.
Last summer, Sunak defended his social media messaging, saying he wants to get the government’s message across to as many people as possible and that if it means “they poke fun at me in the process” then “so be it”.
At least £894 has been spent on social media by the Treasury over the last year during Sunak’s time in office, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the PA news agency revealed.
It marks a substantial increase from 2019/20, when £604 was spent – mostly during Sajid Javid’s tenure.
In 2018/19, during Philip Hammond’s time in Number 11, nothing was spent on social media, according to the FOI response.
It is understood that all Treasury content related to this year’s Budget has been made by the in-house communications team at “no additional cost”.
Sunak has an approval rating of 41 per cent, according to a YouGov poll, making him one of the most popular chancellors in recent years. But when the crisis recedes and his attention turns to balancing the books, will he be so keen to have his image associated with tax rises and spending cuts?