Rishi Sunak poses for pre-budget photo with £180 'smart mug'

Simon Murphy Political correspondent
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Simon Walker HM Treasury/PA</span>
Photograph: Simon Walker HM Treasury/PA

For George Osborne it was a Byron burger and chips, with the upmarket chain undermining his bid to convey a man-of-the-people image. Philip Hammond settled for a personalised Emma Bridgewater mug emblazoned with his name.

But the current chancellor, Rishi Sunak, appears to have gone one step further in the traditional pre-budget photo opportunity by posing with a “smart mug” costing £180.

A series of snaps released by the Treasury show Sunak at work, with the expensive gadget on his desk as he pores over the details of the mini-budget he will deliver to the Commons on Wednesday.

The Ember travel mug, reportedly a gift from his wife, Akshata Murthy, the daughter of a billionaire businessman, retails for up to £179.95 online, with a product description boasting that it “does more than simply keep your coffee hot”.

It adds: “Our smart mug allows you to set an exact drinking temperature and keeps it there for up to three hours, so your coffee is never too hot, or too cold.” The 355ml mug is apparently dishwasher safe and even includes a charging coaster.

It is a far cry from the image of Osborne chomping on fast food that he tweeted in 2013 on the night before he delivered the comprehensive spending review. The picture prompted ridicule, with the then chancellor accused of a misguided attempt to project a populist image. The Sun pointed out that the cheapest Byron burger was priced at £6.75, with the lowest priced McDonald’s at 99p.

Osborne saw the funny side and later tweeted: “There I am working late on my speech, and I’ve got a takeaway hamburger, but it puts you on the front page of the Sun. It’s an occupational hazard.”

In 2018, Hammond was pictured slurping from an Emma Bridgewater mug with his name and “chancellor” on the side.