Home U.K Teetotal Rishi Sunak ignores long tradition of Chancellor drinking alcohol during Budget

Teetotal Rishi Sunak ignores long tradition of Chancellor drinking alcohol during Budget


The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the only member of the House of Commons allowed to drink alcohol in the chamber. It is a parliamentary privilege solely afforded to the Chancellor, that has been handed down through the ages and has stood the test of time. For hundreds of years the country’s chief finance minister has been able to stand at the despatch box with whatever tipple they fancy to get them through the speech.

During the Nineties, former Chancellor Ken Clarke delivered his Budgets while sipping on a scotch.

Nigel Lawson famously favoured a spritzer and Geoffrey Howe a gin and tonic.

Further back in time Benjamin Disraeli liked to sip a brandy with water while his great rival William Gladstone enjoyed the unusual concoction of a sherry with a beaten egg.

More recently, ex-Chancellors Philip Hammond, George Osborne, Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown, all opted for water.

In fact, Mr Darling drank what was named “Standard Water” in reference to, and support of, the London Evening Standard newspaper’s campaign to have plain tap water available in restaurants at no charge to customers.

Mr Sunak’s choice of drink did not attract as much attention as the container, though.

One Twitter user said: “Did you see Rishi Sunak talking about green growth whilst drinking from a single-use plastic cup?”

Another one hit out: “Rishi Sunak using a plastic cup for his drink during the Budget statement?

“Seriously, can he not insist on a proper glass?”

It is not clear whether alcohol has led to ministerial cock-ups in the past.

However, there have been a few mishaps.

George Ward Hunt turned up at the Commons in 1869 to find that he had left his speech at home.

Meanwhile, Hugh Dalton leaked key parts of his 1947 Budget to a reporter – only to have news of his plans to put a penny on a pint of beer and a tax on dog racing appear in the paper, before he had revealed them in his speech.

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The headline rate of corporation tax will go up from 19 percent to 25 percent in 2023, with an exemption for small businesses, and income tax thresholds will be frozen.

Mr Sunak said forecasts by the Office for Budget Responsibility showed the UK economy would bounce back quicker than previously thought, with lower unemployment and higher growth.

But, he told MPs that despite the £280billion of support already committed to protecting the economy, the damage done by coronavirus has been “acute”.

He said: “Our economy has shrunk by 10 percent – the largest fall in over 300 years. Our borrowing is the highest it has been outside of wartime.

“It’s going to take this country – and the whole world – a long time to recover from this extraordinary economic situation. But we will recover.”


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