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UK politics

Why dishy Rishi worries Labour

Popular as well as “hugely hard-working”. Andrew Fox/WPA Pool/Getty

The American football guru Bill Belichick has always argued it’s a good plan to target the opposition’s best player. That’s why it makes sense that Labour is going after Rishi Sunak, says Dominic Lawson in The Sunday Times. When the Chancellor put together the furlough scheme “with remarkable speed and decisiveness”, he had lefties like the trade union boss Frances O’Grady cooing that he was “smart” and “energetic”. Last month, a poll of crucial “red wall” voters found that Sunak was the only leading politician from any party with a positive approval rating, at plus 22%.

Labour is painting Sunak, likely the richest MP, as a “deeply privileged ex-Goldman Sachs financier”. But ordinary voters care far less about class and wealth than Labour Party members. Besides, Sunak’s grandparents came to Britain from northern India with very little, and his parents, a GP and pharmacist, were “hugely hard-working”. He has inherited their drive, typically working from 7.30 in the morning to 11.30 at night. “Often we have to remind him to eat,” says one Treasury official. Sunak becoming Britain’s first British-Asian party leader would be a rebuke to the left, “which has long seen itself as the natural home for ethnic-minority voters”. No wonder Labour wants him damaged.