Rishi Sunak accused of ‘staggering lack of self-awareness’ over £180 smart mug

Chancellor poses with Bluetooth-enabled beaker costing more than a week’s wages for young people on his new ‘kickstart’ fund

Adam Forrest
Wednesday 08 July 2020 09:59
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Rishi Sunak preparing his economic update statement
Rishi Sunak preparing his economic update statement

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been accused of a “staggering lack of self-awareness” as he posed with a mug costing £180 ahead of his emergency mini-budget statement in the Commons.

Photos released by the Treasury showed Mr Sunak looking over his notes next to a smart mug allowing tea or coffee to be kept warm for up to three hours.

The Bluetooth-enabled beaker comes with a “charging coaster” and allows the drinker to remotely programme a particular temperature for their beverage.

Mr Sunak is set to announce a “kickstart” youth jobs scheme later – yet opposition politicians pointed out that young people on the national minimum wage would have to work more than a week to be able to afford one of the “techno” mugs.

Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat leadership candidate, said: “At a time when millions are struggling to get by, the chancellor is posing with a £180 coffee mug.”

She added: “It would take an 18-year-old on the government’s new work placement scheme over a week to earn that much. This shows a staggering lack of self-awareness.”

The chancellor is expected to announce a jobs scheme for young people which will see the government cover the cost of 25 hours a week at the minimum wage – if employers offer a six-month work placement to those aged between 16 and 24 on universal credit.

It would take 18-year-olds – who currently earn £6.45 an hour on the minimum wage – more than a week’s work to make £180 under the Treasury’s new scheme.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner chimed in on the row, tweeting: “What on earth does a £180 quid coffee mug actually do apart from hopefully keeping your coffee hot?”

Mr Sunak’s mug is made by Ember and is thought to be a Christmas present from his wife. The company – which boasts about making “the world’s first temperature control mug” – claims the product does “more than simply keep your coffee hot”.

Tea and coffee drinkers can use an app to set the temperature of their beverage up to 62.5C, and receive notifications on their phone when the “desired temperature is reached”.

Reviews on Amazon reveal mixed feelings about the mug. One user called it “punitively expensive”, while another buyer said they found it “too complicated”.

But one satisfied customer said it was “very handy for those who don’t often finish their drink right away during work”.

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