Rishi Sunak admits he had a ‘very fortunate’ upbringing after describing how he went without Sky TV as a child

12 June 2024, 14:18 | Updated: 12 June 2024, 14:29

Rishi Sunak said he had a 'very fortunate' upbringing on the campaign trail following his remark that he went without 'lots of things' as a kid.
Rishi Sunak said he had a 'very fortunate' upbringing on the campaign trail following his remark that he went without 'lots of things' as a kid. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Jenny Medlicott

Rishi Sunak has said he had a ‘very, very fortunate’ upbringing after facing backlash for saying he went without a 'lot of things' as a child. 

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In the interview with Paul Brand that sparked a storm for the PM after he left D-Day commemorations early, Mr Sunak cited Sky TV as an example of things he went without during his childhood.

But following outcry over his remarks, Mr Sunak said from the Tory battle bus on Wednesday that he was “very fortunate” growing up.

He said he was most grateful to his parents for providing him with an "enormous amount of love" more than "the material things.

Quizzed by journalists on the campaign trail on whether he accepted he had a privileged upbringing, Mr Sunak added: “I was very, very fortunate that my parents had good jobs.

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"My dad was a GP, my mum was a pharmacist, and they worked really hard to support me and my brother and sister and I'm really grateful to them for that and actually more importantly than material things, what they did for all of us was instil in us a sense of hard work, and service, but also just provide an enormous amount of love.

"And that's the most important thing that they did for us. And I'm very grateful for that. And that's why I say I'm very fortunate. But the reality of the situation is my grandparents emigrated in this country, with very little and in three generations, I'm sitting here talking to you as Prime Minister.

Rishi Sunak said he had a 'very fortunate' upbringing on the campaign trail.
Rishi Sunak said he had a 'very fortunate' upbringing on the campaign trail. Picture: Getty

Read more: Rishi Sunak says he had to 'go without' Sky TV as a child so his parents could send him to boarding school

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"And I think that says an enormous amount about our country because I don't think my story will be possible, pretty much anywhere else."

In the interview filmed with Paul Brand last week, Mr Sunak faced a series of questions about how in touch he is with ordinary voters.

He was asked about how he is able to stay in touch with ordinary people when he is 'wealthier than the king'.

Asked about whether he had to 'go without something' when he was a child, Mr Sunak replies: "I went without lots of things because my parents wanted to put everything into our education and that was a priority."

Pressed to give a specific example, Mr Sunak said: “There’ll be all sorts of things that I would’ve wanted as a kid that I couldn’t have. Famously, Sky TV, so that was something that we never had growing up actually.”

The Prime Minister, who was educated at the now £52,000 private boarding school Winchester College in Hampshire, said: “What is more important is my values and how I was raised.

"And I was raised in a household where hard work was really important … service to your community was important. And my parents worked very hard for what they had and they wanted their kids to have a better life.”

Mr Sunak caused a political storm last week by not attending an international ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings, returning to the UK to record the interview instead.

He said his GP father and pharmacist mother wanted to 'put everything' into their children's education and Sky TV was one of the sacrifices they made.

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak. Picture: Alamy

The PM said his parents made lifestyle sacrifices for him and his education.

Tory peer on what Sunak 'did well' with manifesto launch

Mr Sunak was criticised by politicians across the political spectrum for his decision to leave D-Day early, including by his own Cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt.

During the interview, the Conservative leader apologised for his lateness and told him the “incredible” commemorations in Normandy “all just ran over”.

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage claimed that Mr Sunak did not care about British history.

Asked what he thought of the Reform UK leader, who are challenging the Conservatives for right-wing voters, Mr Sunak said: "I really don’t know him. I think I’ve met him maybe once in my life.

"At the end of the day, as I said, one of two people is going to be prime minister on 5 July. It’s either Keir Starmer or me."

It comes after Mr Sunak announced a flurry of policies designed to woo voters, pledging to cut another 2p off national insurance, effectively abolish stamp duty for first-time buyers on homes under £425,000, and introduce an annual migration cap.

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