The three biggest surprises from those bizarre Budget photos

Guy Kelly
·4-min read
rishi sunak and the budget box - PA
rishi sunak and the budget box - PA

It’s been quite a week for fans of revelations about Rishi Sunak. On Sunday, we learned that the Chancellor of the Exchequer survives on a working diet of a single apple, some cashew nuts and a dinner of “chicken broth”.

On Tuesday, on the eve of news that the Prime Minister plans to clamp down on middle class drug users, social media enjoyed Sunak’s admission that he is a “total coke addict.” Sorry, total Coca-Cola addict, particularly the pure Mexican variety.

And today, on a taxing day in which he appeared in parliament to announce his second Budget as Britain’s official keeper of the purse strings, the surprises have kept coming. The headlines will focus on the furlough scheme, Covid recovery, future corporation tax rises and help for the self-employed, but those are the boring, granular details. Here’s what we really learned.

1. The back of the Budget briefcase is black

Sunak budget box - AFP
Sunak budget box - AFP

To borrow from the parlance of the internet, you were today years old when you realised that the Chancellor’s red box – traditionally held up to the press in Downing Street before he proceeds to the Palace of Westminster – is, in fact, only partly red.

Earlier, as Sunak posed for his 2021 shots with the briefcase, a photographer caught sight of the other side of the box, in the process pulling back the curtain on one of the darkest secrets of government. The back is black.

Yes, like a Primark mannequin whose outfit looks superb and exquisitely fitted right until you notice 23 Bulldog clips nipping every inch of loose fabric, the box seems merely wrapped in red material, and not even enough to cover the whole thing. Officials are yet to respond for comment on this groundbreaking discovery.

What next? The ministerial Jaguars are really just old Saabs, with a new chassis plonked on top? Jacob Rees-Mogg is nothing more than a dozen stoats in a double-breasted overcoat? Surely Rishi Sunak, of all people, wouldn’t place so much on style and presentation over substance?

2. Team Rishi have learned the benefits of perspective

The treasury team in the stairwell - PA
The treasury team in the stairwell - PA

Perhaps that’s a little unfair, but Team Sunak – the hardest-working communications team in politics, certainly when it comes to hours clocked on Adobe Photoshop – clearly wished to avoid the group photo of the Chancellor and his deputies in Downing Street last year, when the diminutive Sunak himself looked less like the man in charge and more like a precocious GCSE student lucky enough to spend his half term working in the heart of Whitehall.

How to remedy that? Why, by taking a leaf out of the well-thumbed Famous Short Man Who Necessarily Has To Be Photographed Next To Taller People playbook, of course, which the likes of Tom Cruise know well.

In chapter two of that made-up guide, just after the paragraphs about platform shoes (Sunak has avoided those, for now), is likely a section explaining how photographs taken on staircases can bamboozle the viewer’s sense of perspective so much that even the titchiest of men appear relatively normal height.

In a photograph released this morning, the Treasury team were shown assembled in a Number 11 stairwell arranged in something like reverse height order. Tall blokes down the bottom, looking up, and Sunak, with his deceitful briefcase in hand, at the top. If you’d never seen them before, you’d think Little Rishi was 6ft 2ins. Except we have seen them before, so…

3. John Glen has something going on with his legs

john glen's odd legs - PA
john glen's odd legs - PA

Back to that photograph in the stairwell. Right in the middle is John Glen, MP for Salisbury and current Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister. Look closely, and you’ll notice that all is not well with John Glen’s legs.

At first glance Glen is standing normally, but on closer inspection either 1) He is crouching like a Cossack dancer 2) His torso is three times as long as his body 3) He is ‘floating’ like those people who dress as Yoda in Trafalgar Square 4) Someone on Team Sunak needs to spend even more time learning Photoshop.

Frankly, that’s enough news for one day.