Politics Explained

Can Rishi Sunak stay as chancellor after non-dom tax affair?

Once a serious leadership prospect, Sunak’s best interests now lie in keeping Johnson in No 10, as Sean O'Grady explains

Friday 08 April 2022 21:30
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<p>Rishi Sunak was doing well before his ill-received spring statement  </p>

Rishi Sunak was doing well before his ill-received spring statement

A mere fortnight or so ago, before the chancellor delivered his ill-starred spring statement, the Westminster gossip centred on Rishi Sunak’s evaporating hopes of becoming prime minister. With Partygate half-forgotten, plaudits from President Zelensky, and the cost of living crisis being blamed on No 11, Boris Johnson was enjoying an unlikely recovery.

Yet the game wasn’t over for Sunak. Hope springs eternal. Then he botched his mini-Budget, which was liked by no one, and added some PR blunders into the mix. Recuperating in the California sunshine at his second home, he must have wondered where it had all gone wrong. Then came The Independent’s scoop about his spectacularly rich wife’s non-dom status.

Suddenly, it isn’t Johnson who should be worried about his job so much as Sunak. How long can he last as chancellor of the exchequer? Can a man perceived to be a bit of a political fraud (being photographed filling up a Kia when he owns a Tesla and a Range Rover), with potential conflicts of interest, and shudderingly out of touch with the “just about managing” folk, really aspire to his position? His popularity, inside and outside the party, has collapsed.

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