Why are people so obsessed with Rishi Sunak’s height?

New PM’s relatively short stature a subject of intense fascination online

Joe Sommerlad
Friday 28 October 2022 06:47 BST

Related: Sir Keir Starmer says Rishi Sunak was ‘trounced’ by Liz Truss, who was beaten by a lettuce

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Rishi Sunak is the first British Asian to take up residence at 10 Downing Street, the country’s first Hindu leader, its youngest since 1812 and one of its wealthiest ever statesmen.

At 170cm (or 5 foot 6 inches), he is also one of the UK’s shortest premiers on record, a matter of increasing obsession online, with Google searches into the matter spiking over the course of the week.

For the record, this is how our new PM compares with his predecessors:

  • Liz Truss (2022-22) – 5 foot 5¼ inches
  • Boris Johnson (2019-22) – 5 foot 9 inches
  • Theresa May (2016-19) – 5 foot 6 inches
  • David Cameron (2010-16) – 6 foot ½ inch
  • Gordon Brown (2007-10) – 5 foot 11 inches
  • Tony Blair (1997-2007) – 6 foot
  • John Major (1990-97) – 5 foot 11 inches
  • Margaret Thatcher (1979-90) – 5 foot 5 inches
  • James Callaghan (1976-79) – 6 foot 1 inch
  • Harold Wilson (1964-70) – 5 foot 8 inches
  • Alec Douglas-Home (1963-64) – 6 foot 1inch
  • Harold Macmillan (1957-63) – 6 foot
  • Winston Churchill (1940-45, then 1951-55) – 5 foot 6 inches

Mr Sunak’s stature has attracted attention before, notably when, as chancellor in March 2021, he rather artfully positioned himself at the top of the stairs of No 11 brandishing that famous red box in time for the Budget, forcing his fellow Treasury ministers to line the steps below him, looking far smaller than their boss.

The issue returned to the spotlight when Mr Sunak met King Charles III at Buckingham Palace and the men were photographed together shaking hands and appeared to be the same height, despite His Majesty supposedly towering 8cm above his latest PM, adding a further layer of mystery to the ever-more-baffling Wonderland world of Westminster.

Mr Sunak’s height makes him 5cm shorter than the height of the average adult man in Britain, according to the Office for National Statistics, which appears to be of greater concern when it comes to politicians than for the rest of us mere mortals.

Britain Politics

But France, for one, has remained consistently unflustered about the prospect of short statesmen, from Napoleon Bonaparte to Emmanuel Macron by way of Nicolas Sarkozy and both Russia and Ukraine are currently led by men of 5ft 7in.

And no one looks down on Spider-Man star Tom Holland over his relationship with the much-taller Zendaya other than Zendaya herself, who can hardly help it.

Perhaps the real “issue” with Rishi Sunak’s height, as suggested by GQ’s Imogen West-Knights, is that he has failed to “own” it, preferring trick photography and boxes discreetly concealed behind lecterns to mask the truth.

“Sunak has betrayed short men,” Ms West-Knights writes, adamantly.

“The reason Rishi has killed the era of the short king isn’t because he’s short and awful – although he is both. It’s because he has refused to own it.

“Short men should be outraged at Sunak, who has spent his whole time in the political limelight trying desperately to distance himself from their ranks.”

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