Loyal and ready to spend, meet Britain’s fast-track finance minister

LONDON (Reuters) – Five years ago Britain’s new finance minister Rishi Sunak wasn’t even a member of parliament, now he is running the world’s fifth largest economy.

Newly appointed Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak leaves Downing Street in London, Britain February 13, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The 39-year-old former Goldman Sachs banker was appointed in dramatic fashion on Thursday when incumbent Sajid Javid unexpectedly quit – in a row over advisers – during what Downing Street had cast as a routine ministerial reshuffle.

As Johnson moves to increase control of the finance ministry, one of the youngest chancellors in history will face a prime minister who wants to increase spending on everything from infrastructure and police to health and education.

“Delighted to be appointed, lots to get on with, thanks very much,” he told reporters before bounding up the steps into Britain’s finance ministry.

Sunak, who became a member of parliament for the governing Conservative Party in 2015, had been tipped for promotion on Thursday after a rapid ascent through the ranks of government.

But few expected the Brexit-supporting Oxford graduate to ascend to one of the highest offices in the land just yet.

Sunak had been serving as Javid’s deputy in the finance ministry – a job focused on keeping control of public spending – after Johnson promoted him from a junior ministerial role upon taking office in July 2019.

Despite his grip on the nation’s purse strings, Sunak has backed higher public spending, most recently speaking in support of multi-billion pound transport projects.

A research note by investment bank Citi saw the possibility of “Trump-style stimulus” with Javid gone and Sunak at the helm.

Sterling GBP=D3 extended gains on Sunak’s appointment as investors bet that it would pave the way for a more expansionary budget next month.

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