The Chancellor was forced to fight back accusations of narcissism as he appeared in an interview with Sky News host Niall Paterson. Rishi Sunak was told his policy advertising banners often containing his name and his face were a sign he was trying to brand himself to become the next Conservative leader. Mr Paterson said: “There have been an awful lot of adverts over the past few weeks with your name on and with your face on.
“With the greatest respect, you’re not the Prime Minister.
“So it does almost look just a bit narcissistic.”
But the Tory frontbencher hit back: “No, I’m actually very new to politics in that sense, so for someone who has a job like mine, where I’m responsible for the UK economy, I’m not somebody that’s been in politics for a very long time and understandably most people didn’t know who I was before I had this job.
“My job is to make sure that people understand what I’m doing on their behalf, can question me, hold me accountable for it and feel engaged with that debate.”
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As the Sky News host insisted no other politician but the Prime Minister would put his name and face next to a policy announcement, Mr Sunak added: “We’re actually living in a world where people can communicate in different ways.
“My main desire is to make sure everyone understands what I’m doing so they can question it, hold me account for it, know why I’m doing it.
“And I’m going to try lots of different ways of communicating with people. I’m not going to apologise for that.”
Asked whether he would like to be prime minister one day, Mr Sunak said Boris Johnson was doing the job admirably well and his own job was hard enough.
“I think the job I have is hard enough, and I see up close what the prime minister has to deal with every day, it’s not an envious task, I think he does it admirably well,” he told Sky News.
“These are very difficult times, I’m grateful that we have his leadership, I think the country should be very grateful for that as well.”
The Chancellor said his priority is to protect as many jobs as possible from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
In his speech to the Conservative Party’s virtual conference on Monday Mr Sunak warned the country faced “hard choices” as it rebuilt the public finances.
But speaking to Sky News on Tuesday he said that would have to be achieved “over time” and that his immediate focus was on employment.
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“My overall focus at the moment is trying to protect as many jobs as possible. What is happening in our economy at the moment is significant and severe, many people are losing their jobs,” he said.
“So the focus of my intention in the short term is doing what we can to support as much employment as possible.
“Over time we need to have sustainable public finances.
“That is important to me, it is important to the Government, but in the short term the best way to have long-term sustainable public finances is to protect as much employment as possible.”