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Tax rises and handouts threaten to dent Rishi Sunak’s status as darling of the Tory party

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When Rishi Sunak declared this week that he couldn’t wait to get back to the pub, he quickly became the subject of online mockery. The Chancellor is known to be teetotal, so the idea of him champing at the bit for a pint at the bar seemed hard to imagine.

There is one pub that Mr Sunak frequents, though – the Golden Lion in the North Yorkshire village of Osmotherly. A year ago, Sunak was a regular sight in the oak-lined tavern in his constituency – where he could be found tucking into a weekend meal. However, in the past year his appearances have become less frequent. Since he was promoted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in February 2020, his world has been transformed.

The Chancellor has found his first year in the role dominated by lockdowns and economic uncertainty. He saw his own popularity soar, and ended 2020 as the country’s most popular politician. However, with more Covid-19 uncertainty ahead and difficult economic decisions looming, many of his own colleagues believe this year could prove his toughest yet.

When Mr Sunak was appointed Chancellor in the wake of Sajid Javid’s resignation, he was quickly cast as a “baby chino” – meaning “Chancellor in name only”. The idea was that he had been picked because he would bend to the will of Mr Johnson and his top aide at the time, Dominic Cummings.

The reality was more complicated. The Prime Minister was keen to have a relationship........

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