Footage emerges of young Rishi Sunak saying his friends are 'not working class'
Watch: Resurfaced documentary clip captures Rishi Sunak suggesting he doesn't have 'working class' friends
Footage has emerged of a young Rishi Sunak saying his friends are “not working class”.
The clip has gone viral on social media following Sunak’s announcement he will be standing to be prime minister via the Conservative Party leadership contest.
In a clip, said to be taken from a BBC documentary Middle Classes: Their Rise & Sprawl from 2001 - when he would have been a 21-year-old Oxford University student - Sunak corrects himself when he says he has working class friends.
“I have friends who are aristocrats, I have friends who are upper class, I have friends who are working class… well, not working class.”
He goes on: “But I mix and match and I go to see kids from an inner city state school and tell them to apply to Oxford, and talk to them about people like me.
“And then I shock them at the end of challenging them for half an hour and tell them I was at Winchester, and my best friend is from Eton or whatever, and then they're like: ‘Oh.'”
Sunak’s reference to Winchester is Winchester College, the public school he attended before Oxford.
Clips only showing Sunak’s first sentence ending with “well, not working class” have been viewed millions of times on Twitter since Saturday.
It was seized by Labour frontbencher David Lammy, who wrote: “Rishi Sunak, on camera, saying his friends are aristocrats and members of the upper class, ‘not working class’. He would be a prime minister for the few not the many.”
While the clip is unlikely to damage Sunak’s prospects in the Tory leadership contest, it will certainly add to wider questions about how he can relate to normal people struggling in the cost of living crisis.
Sunak is extremely wealthy: making millions from a career in finance before becoming an MP in 2015. His wife Akshata Murty holds shares in Infosys, the IT company founded by her billionaire father. Together, they have a fortune of £730 million, according to The Sunday Times Rich List.
As chancellor earlier this year, Sunak’s popularity plummeted amid criticism of his package of measures to deal with the cost of living crisis, which many, including Tory MPs, said didn’t go far enough.
It then emerged his wife Murty held non-domiciled status, allowing her to reduce her UK tax bill. This was legal but following the ensuing scandal, Murty pledged to pay UK tax on her worldwide income.
Watch: Rishi Sunak's video outlining leadership bid
Sunak had initially shot to popularity through his furlough scheme at the onset of the COVID pandemic, which is credited with saving millions of jobs.
According to the Oddschecker website, Sunak is currently favourite to win the leadership contest following his announcement he would stand on Friday, three days after dramatically resigning as chancellor and fatally weakening Boris Johnson’s position as PM.
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In a slickly-produced campaign video, Sunak begins by reflecting on his upbringing: “Let me tell you a story," he says, "about a young woman, almost a lifetime ago, who boarded a plane armed with hope for a better life and the love of her family. This young woman came to Britain, where she managed to find a job, but it took her nearly a year to save enough money for her husband and children to follow her.
“One of those children was my mother, aged 15. My mum studied hard and got the qualifications to become a pharmacist. She met my dad, an NHS GP, and they settled in Southampton.
“Their story didn’t end there, but that is where my story began.”