Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 August 2020

Why does Britain’s finance minister drink tea from a £180 cup?

Ember Temperature Control Travel Mug 2 works with an app on his phone that lets him choose his beverage's temperature

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak working on a post-coronavirus budget with a smart mug in the background. Source HM Treasury
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak working on a post-coronavirus budget with a smart mug in the background. Source HM Treasury

Britain's Chancellor Rishi Sunak will unveil his plan to pull the UK out of what is predicted to be the worst recession for 300 years on Wednesday.

So as he made his preparations, Mr Sunak needed a sustaining drink.

At the centre of his desk, as he finalised details of projects to prevent mass unemployment and reassure people facing a crisis in family finances, sat a coffee cup that sells for £180 (Dh830).

The Ember Temperature Control Travel Mug 2, which appears in photographs released by Mr Sunak’s office before Wednesday’s statement to Parliament, works with an app on his phone that lets the chancellor choose exactly how hot or cool to keep his drink.

The mug, the price of which is equal to more than 20 hours' work for someone on the minimum wage, has echoes of a similar gaffe by one of his predecessors, George Osborne.

In 2013, Mr Osborne was lampooned for eating what the Sun newspaper described as “poshburger” in a photograph he tweeted the night before a spending review.

That image, intended to show him as a man of the people, led to criticism that he was cutting public spending while dining on burgers from Byron, which were seven times more expensive than McDonald’s.

But Mr Sunak’s picture at least shows that he has been busy. A warning light shows the mug’s battery is flat.

Updated: July 8, 2020 09:06 AM

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