A tweet by Rishi Sunak, Britain’s new Indian-origin chancellor of the exchequer, showing him preparing tea for his team working on the forthcoming budget, has blown into a storm, with those opposed to Tory politics subjecting him and a tea brand to much abuse.
Sunak, 39, was the surprise appointment in the February 13 reshuffle by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The key post, equivalent to India’s minister for finance, is one of the most high-profile roles in the UK government, with the chancellor based in Number 11, Downing Street.
“Quick Budget prep break making tea for the team. Nothing like a good Yorkshire brew”, Sunak, who is MP from Richmond (Yorkshire), tweeted, with an image of a large bag of Yorkshire Tea, a popular brand that sources tea from Assam, among other gardens.
The company, however, soon received boycott calls. Sunak’s past in the world of finance was also raked, as twitteratti dissected the image showing six cups, and commented on the Conservative government’s budget policies.
Taken aback at the level of abuse, Yorkshire Tea insisted it had nothing to do with the image.
It said: “On Friday, the Chancellor shared a photo of our tea. Politicians do that sometimes (Jeremy Corbyn did it in 2017). We weren’t asked or involved – and we said so the same day. Lots of people got angry with us all the same”.
“It’s been pretty shocking to see the determination some have to drag us into a political mudfight…We’ve spent the last three days answering furious accusations and boycott calls. For some, our tea just being drunk by someone they don’t like means it’s forever tainted, and they’ve made sure we know it”, the company added, asking people to “try to be kind”.
Sunak, one of four Indian-origin MPs around Johnson’s cabinet table, is not the only one to face charges after the reshuffle. Home secretary Priti Patel was the subject of reports claiming the intelligence agencies were withholding information because they did not trust her.
Downing Street had to intervene to assert that Johnson had full confidence in Patel, who also faced accusations of bullying officials and trying to allegedly remove the top civil servant in the Home Office.
According to an expert in the think-tank Institute for Government, Business secretary Alok Sharma allegedly did not have the required expertise or seniority to do justice to the role of president of COP26 to be held in Glasgow later this year, to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other world leaders.
Attorney-general Suella Braverman, the fourth Indian-origin MP in the cabinet, was the subject of a report that claimed she had links to a Buddhist sect whose founder reportedly faced charges of being a serial sexual predator.
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