Robert Sutton: Top Tories on Twitter. Case Study 1) Rishi Sunak

29 Jun

Rob Sutton is an incoming junior doctor in Wales and a former Parliamentary staffer. He is a recent graduate of the University of Oxford Medical School.

It seems unsurprising that Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has done well in the rankings. He is behind only Boris Johnson and Theresa May, and given his emergence as a leading figure in the Government’s coronavirus response (Matt Hancock has also done well, ranked five), the ranking seems a fair recognition of his prominence.

He is a long way ahead of his most recent predecessor, Sajid Javid (ranked 8), and despite Jacob Rees-Mogg having almost 60,000 more followers, Sunak ranks a place ahead of him. This is a reflection of the speed of Sunak’s ascent, having only been in Parliament since 2015, half the time as Rees-Mogg.

Highly-respected within the party, Sunak is a stylish figure with a talent for managing the optics of his job. A consistently solid performer during the Covid-19 daily briefings, he laid out the Government’s economic response to the crisis with a confidence and reassurance which has calmed the public and financial markets.

He has worked hard to develop his social media brand, hiring a talented media special adviser, Cass Horowitz, to help craft his image and achieve broader engagement. He balances seriousness with an ease which many of his older and greyer colleagues lack.

He can be light-hearted when necessary and is able to engage in a manner few previous Chancellors have shown. Even when his attempts backfire (see the “Yorkshire tea” fiasco) they generate discussion and media interest.

The challenge for Sunak will be whether he can carry over his current popularity in a post-coronavirus Treasury. His ascent has been so quick that he had relatively little time to make enemies. It remains to be seen whether this will continue as he is inevitably forced to tighten the purse strings.