Rishi Sunak is historic, filled with many firsts. He’s the youngest of his predecessors, the first colored – and he’s also the richest man to ever live in 10 Downing Street.
For the first time, the prime minister is richer than the monarch. Sunak and his wife are worth a combined £730 million, or $1.3 billion, according to reports Sunday Times The Rich List, released in July. King Charles III (net of crown assets) is worth about half that, according to estimates Forbes.
Mr. Sunac’s wealth has long been the subject of attention, with some media reveling in his designer outfits.
Others ask if it is putting him out of touch at a time when Britain is going through a cost-of-living crisis.
It didn’t help matters when a two-decade-old clip of Mr. Sunak, 21, talking about his social circle resurfaced in July.
“I have aristocratic friends, I have upper class friends, I have working class friends – well, not working class,” he said in a 2007 BBC documentary, laughing at the end.
“I mix and match, then I go to these kids in inner-city public schools and tell them to go to Oxford and talk to them about people like me.”
The clip drew criticism, with much of it focusing on his extraordinary wealth and questioning how a man worth so much could represent an “ordinary Briton”.
Labor veteran Bruce Hawker, who worked on the campaign of former prime minister Kevin Rudd – one of Australia’s richest prime ministers – said that when it comes to connecting with the country, “a lot depends on the quality of the advice , which they have.
“You know, the old saying, if you can’t be real, fake it.”
In Australia, former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull were the targets of similar attention for their wealth during their time in office. Mr Rudd’s millions came mainly from his wife Theresa, who founded a recruitment company, while Mr Turnbull’s came from investments.
“I think Rudd’s wealth was not a factor in his success – or failure – as prime minister … he had a personality that was really challenging to a lot of people,” Mr Hawker said. Tape.
“Malcolm Turnbull was considered wealthy, but again his failures were not due to a lack of connection with his people, but party factions.”
How did Mr. Sunak get rich?
After graduating from Oxford University, Mr. Sunak worked at the investment bank Goldman Sachs as a hedge fund manager. While working there, he met his wife, Akshatha Murthy, daughter of tech billionaire Narayan Murthy.
Mr. Murthy, who co-founded Infosys, is considered the “father” of India’s IT sector. The partnership came under fire after it emerged his wife had failed to pay UK tax on her income earned abroad, despite having lived there for nearly a decade. She later said she would pay UK tax on her worldwide income.
Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murthy attend the British Asian Trust Gala in February 2022. credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images
In October 2020, Mr Sunak was also under pressure to reveal where his personal wealth was invested, with suggestions that it could be in offshore tax havens. The questions appeared again in April 2022.
In a poll released Monday, market research firm Savanta ComRes asked voters to describe Mr. Sunak in one word. The results, published in a word cloud, showed that the most common answer was one word: “Rich.”
Mr. Sunak said he grew up in a middle-class family where his father worked as a therapist and his mother as a pharmacist. He has often said that his education at Winchester College, one of Britain’s most expensive and exclusive boarding schools, came from his parents’ savings.
During his election campaign he said: “I grew up working in a shop delivering medicine. I was working as a waiter in an Indian restaurant down the street.’
Asked in August how he could relate to the public given that he is personally richer than the monarch, Queen Elizabeth, Mr Sunak said people should not hold his wealth against him.
“I think in our country we don’t judge people by their bank accounts, we judge them by their character and actions. And yes, I’m really lucky to be in the situation I’m in now, but I wasn’t born that way,” Mr Sunak said at a leadership election event in Darlington, northern England.
“My parents worked very hard to give me all these opportunities. I’m not going to apologize for what they did to me. And really, that’s why I want to do this job, because I want to give those opportunities to everyone else.”
Talking to TapeMr. Hawker said wealth in general can be an advantage when it comes to financing a company, but that doesn’t negate insight.
“Just because you’re rich shouldn’t stop you from understanding how hard it is for a lot of people to make ends meet.”
“If he cannot demonstrate to British voters that he understands their plight and that he has policies that will address their problems, then he will fail.”
After the stormy exit of Boris Johnson, who was anchored by the party’s organization during the COVID lockdown, Mr Hawker said Mr Sunak had some work to do.
“Johnson left the Tory party with the impression that they, as a group, don’t really understand how hard it is for ordinary Britons.”
– from Reuters