There Are Many Things To Criticise Rishi Sunak For – But His Height Isn’t One Of Them

He’s not even the smallest leader we’ve ever had…

rishi sunak height

by Lydia Spencer-Elliott |
Updated on

Short King Spring was an era of optimism — albeit a brief one. Men below 5ft 8in were lusted after, from Tom Holland to Volodymyr Zelensky, as the age-old horny height bias was inverted. A kinder, gentler, more inclusive age beckoned ... and then came Rishi Sunak’s entrance to No 10. Suddenly, it feels like we're right back where we started.

Take that little black foot stall waiting at Downing Street to boost (5ft 6in) Rishi over the lectern as he made his first speech as Prime Minister. Twitter rushed to mock him for it. ‘Sorry to be a bigot but Rishi Sunak cannot be Prime Minister. He’s too short,’ wrote one user. ‘Is anyone else in hysterics about how short Rishi is?’ questioned another.

Yet Rishi Sunak isn’t even the shortest Prime Minister we’ve ever had. That title is held by the man regarded by the Tory Party as a giant of the last century: Winston Churchill, who was 5ft 5in. What's more, Rishi joins numerous leaders with a short stature: France’s Emmanuel Macron (5ft 7in), Germany’s Olaf Scholz (5ft 5in), Ukraine’s Zelesky (5ft 7in) - to name the non-dictators (Vladimir Putin, lest we forget, is also 5ft 7in). On home turf, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan is 5ft 4in. So, why is Rishi’s height so surprising?

Well, it's partly because of how he's positioned himself. Throughout his time in politics, Rishi has taken part in ludicrous photoshoots exploiting mind-bending angles to present him as a man of great height (see the Treasury staff photoshoot, below, with Rishi placed at the top of the staircase). He often poses for photo opps while other people are sitting down. If rumours are true — and The Times reports it as gospel — he may well even have the trousers of his £1,300 tailored suits hoiked up a few inches too high to feign lanky legs.

But in the boys' club that is Westminster, it’s perhaps no shock that Rishi felt the need to hide his true height. A few extra inches were reportedly used by Boris Johnson to intimidate his onetime right-hand rival — an unnamed senior MP allegedly told The Daily Mail that Boris appointed Simon Clarke (6ft 5in) to the Treasury specifically to irk Sunak because of their height discrepancy.

And really, it's just not on. As more short man jokes roll in now that Rishi is officially in power, it’s worth remembering that attacking someone for their height is the playbook of bullies. ‘I’m big, you’re small—and there’s nothing you can do about it,’ the odious Harry Wormwood tells Matilda in the eponymous Roald Dahl classic.

There are many things to criticise Rishi for. Only 23 per cent of his cabinet is female and one of these women is Suella Braverman. He has not been elected by the public, or even the Conservative Party membership (‘The only time he ran in a competitive election he got trounced by the former Prime Minister, who herself got beaten by a lettuce,’ Keir Starmer said at Prime Minister's Questions). To add to that, he’s sitting on a fortune bigger than that of the Royal Family while the country he leads is in a cost-of-living crisis.

With all that to contend with, let’s not stoop to the Twitter trolls level — there are bigger issues at stake.

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