The day Rishi Sunak milked cows in North Yorkshire to learn about farming

William Hague, Rishi Sunak's predecessor as MP for Richmond, has praised him as an "unusually capable politician" as he prepares to give his first Budget speech in his new role.

Former Tory leader Lord Hague wrote in his newspaper column that Mr Sunak faced "the most complex combination of challenges faced on any modern Budget day in peacetime".

He wrote: "Such circumstances call for an exceptional degree of innovation and creativity. This Chancellor should be well placed to deliver it."

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As an example of the abilities of Mr Sunak, who was elected as Richmond MP in 2015, Lord Hague described the process where he was chosen as Tory candidate over rivals with farming and local authority backgrounds, some of whom were native to Yorkshire.

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He wrote in the Telegraph: "For all their natural scepticism and conservatism, the Richmond Tories surprised themselves by choosing a British Indian, raised in Southampton, new to politics, with a career in finance and no previous connection to God’s Own Country in Yorkshire.

"That they did so tells you something rather refreshing about the rank and file of the Conservative Party, so often assumed by Left-wing critics to be prejudiced or set in their ways. But it also tells you a lot about the man they chose, Rishi Sunak."

He wrote: "Rishi combines his obvious intelligence with an ability to relate to people of different backgrounds. He stands out because so many politicians cannot bring those qualities together. Early on in campaigning in Richmond, he turned out to be intensely practical.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is interviewed by Andrew Marr. Photo credit: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA WireChancellor Rishi Sunak is interviewed by Andrew Marr. Photo credit: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is interviewed by Andrew Marr. Photo credit: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire
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"When he told me one day he was going to milk the cows on a farm early next morning I told him he was getting a bit carried away and having an advisory committee of farmers would be sufficient, but off he went milking, and indeed getting stuck in to every other aspect of the factories, food production and tourism that sustain the people of North Yorkshire.

"This is the man who is going to deliver the Budget on Wednesday, and I make no apology for taking up space describing him since he will be an unknown quantity to the vast majority of those listening to him.

"That he would occupy a great office of state is not a surprise to anyone who knows him, although that he is Chancellor already was impossible to anticipate.

"The departure of Sajid Javid was a major loss to the Government, and should not have happened. The one consolation was that an unusually talented replacement was immediately to hand."

He added: "For those who do not yet feel they know the Chancellor, you can be reassured that you will be in the hands of an unusually capable politician."