UK chancellor Rishi Sunak has cast himself as the country’s finance director with prime minister Boris Johnson as the CEO.
The 39-year-old, who is putting the finishing touches to his maiden Budget to be delivered next Wednesday, was promoted last month after his predecessor, Sajid Javid, stepped down amid a row over having to get rid of his team at No. 11 Downing Street and work more closely with the prime minister’s team at No. 10.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Sunak sought to downplay that implication and indicated that he and Johnson were well aligned.
“As you would expect, I come from a business background, and the idea that a finance director would be somewhat not working closely with the CEO of a company is very strange to anyone in the business world. I don’t think it should be any different here,” Sunak told the newspaper.
“So I don’t see any issue with that at all. In terms of the team, they’re all my team. And the relationship has been excellent,” he said.
Sunak, who is married to Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy”s daughter Akshata, is preparing his first Budget against the backdrop of a particularly complex economic situation, including Britain’s recent exit from the European Union (EU) and the compulsions of having to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.
But the minister stressed that he was not daunted by the task and that the economy was well-placed to tackle the challenges.
He said: “Of course it could be a challenge. But I’m not daunted by that. I don’t think we should be daunted by that as a country.
“We rise to challenges, we will meet them, we’re well prepared for them, we’ll get through them and we’ll emerge on the other side stronger.”
As of Sunday, there have been 211 positive tests for coronavirus in the UK, including two deaths.
The government says it is still in the first of a four-phase plan to deal with the crisis and Sunak has indicated that he is looking at temporary measures to support people who may be unable to go to work or businesses which may suffer as a result of the measures.
He said: “The main issue is lots of people might be ill, and therefore not be able to be at work. That impacts the productive capacity of your economy.
“That’s where we might look at some targeted options to help ease the strain on businesses” cash flows for a certain period of time to help them get through to the other side.”
Overall, sunak said he is committed to delivering on the Boris Johnson led Conservative Party’s key manifesto pledges.
Meanwhile, he revealed that his family’s move to the flat on Downing Street has been on hold and will take place once the crucial Budget has been delivered next week.