Last Updated: June 12, 2024By

@@@@@Rishi Sunak: Mug Mania and Political Persona

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Rishi Sunak popped up on his Insta feed this Tuesday, rocking a mug decked out with the St George’s flag. “Starting the day right!” he captioned, all smiles for St George’s Day.

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But hold up, this ain’t his first rodeo with symbolic teacups. That very same day, he strutted his stuff to Warsaw flaunting a plain white mug sporting just the digits “10”, probably a nod to his crib’s address. Last year, it was a Union Jack-printed mug making the rounds at a NATO summit in Lithuania. Seems like his personal brand doesn’t respect international borders.

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And don’t even get me started on his mug collection when he’s out and about. From a Selco mug during a pitstop at a builders’ joint in London to a National Gas mug while checking out terminals in Norfolk, Sunak’s got a mug for every occasion.

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So, what’s the deal with these mugs? Even on the grind, he makes sure his hot drink holder gets some screen time.

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Political journo and mug aficionado Stephen Bush breaks it down: “He’s gotta show he’s just like the rest of us,” he says, sipping from his “In Liz We Truss” mug that’s been chillin’ on shelves since the Tory shindig in 2022. “It’s his way of saying, ‘Yo, I’m just your average Joe, sippin’ from my everyday cup.’”

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Mugs also serve as a low-key nod to patriotism without goin’ all out with a flag, which might come off as try-hard. “It’s like sayin’, ‘Hey, I love this country, just like you do,’” Bush explains.

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Sunak’s mug game has evolved. Last year, he was all about that Emma Bridgewater vibe with his half-pint mug, flanked by a cake to celebrate one year on the job. Now, he’s switched gears, goin’ for a more rugged look, kinda like those Timberland boots he rocked when talkin’ about stoppin’ small-boat crossings.

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But Sunak ain’t the pioneer of political teaware. Tony Blair was all about that mug life, sippin’ like a boss to show off New Labour’s fresh vibe. Before Blair, it was all cups and saucers in Downing Street pics. The mug was New Labour’s way of sayin’, “We’re hip, we’re now.”

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And mugs have always been fair game for political messaging. Almost everyone’s got one, and it’s an easy way to pledge allegiance. But sometimes they miss the mark, like when Ed Miliband dropped that “Controls on immigration” mug, which got a big ol’ thumbs-down from Bush.

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For British politicians, a mug is a safer bet than slappin’ their face on a T-shirt. Remember when Boris Johnson got his plastic mug swiped at the Tory bash in 2019? Talk about an optics nightmare. And Michael Gove finally hopped on the reusable train in 2019, fashionably late for an environment bigwig.

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But what’s in Sunak’s mug? Unless he spills the tea like he did on that Worksop trip, we’ll never know for sure. But tea, with its calming vibes and stress-busting properties, seems like a safe bet, says tea expert Jane Pettigrew. And with an election looming, Sunak’s banking on that good ol’ cuppa to win hearts and minds.

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So, how can Sunak up his mug game to charm the nation? Bush reckons he should stick with Emma Bridgewater instead of tryin’ too hard to be the people’s champ.

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