Rishi Sunak today began his first full week as Prime Minister with him battling to shove a wodge of notes into a Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal tin.
Mr Sunak was supported outside No 10 by his wife Akshata Murty, in her first public appearance with her husband since he won the Tory leadership battle last Monday after becoming the only candidate to achieve the required 100-plus MP backers – helping him avoid a vote amongst members.
The couple, estimated to be worth £730million, were also with Nova, their fox red labrador retriever, who was also received a poppy on its collar.
After briefly struggling with putting his cash into Poppy Appeal tin, he then put a poppy on his wife’s jumper before she reciprocated. Mr Sunak then put a purple collar with a poppy attached around Nova’s neck before giving him a treat.
Ms Murty was seen on Saturday overseeing the family’s belongings being moved into Downing Street.
Rishi Sunak wrestles with a widge of cash that he put in a poppy appeal tin this morning watched by his wife and their family pet
Akshata Murty, wife of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, puts a poppy pin on him as they meet volunteers from the Royal British Legion outside Number 10
Rishi Sunak tends to his dog Nova, putting a collar with a poppy attached to his labrador
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty pose with volunteers from the Royal British Legion outside Number 10 Downing Street
It is his first full week as Prime Minister facing questions about his decision to bring Suella Braverman back as Home Secretary, calls for a U-turn over a climate summit snub and concerns about national security at the heart of Government.
The Prime Minister is considering reversing his decision not to attend the United Nations climate conference in Egypt next week, with environment minister Mark Spencer saying Mr Sunak would go “if his diary allows”.
While Mr Sunak is focusing on domestic issues, including preparations for the November 17 autumn statement, he also faces political challenges including the backlash over the reappointment of Ms Braverman.
The Government’s climate tsar Alok Sharma said he was “disappointed” by the decision not to attend the Cop27 summit, while Tory former chancellor George Osborne asked why Mr Sunak would “trash” the party’s record on the environment.
With US President Joe Biden expected to attend, and reports suggesting Mr Sunak’s arch-rival Boris Johnson could go to the summit, the Prime Minister is weighing up whether to go.
Mr Spencer said the possibility of Mr Johnson going was not a “consideration” for the Prime Minister.
“I think, actually, he’ll be looking at how much he’s got in his inbox,” he told LBC.
“But I think the fact that Boris is thinking of going is a demonstration of how seriously the Conservative Party and the Conservative Government takes these things.”
Mr Spencer told Sky News he would like to see the Prime Minister go to Cop27 “if he’s got time” but “he’ll make that call and I’m sure it’ll be the right one”.
Meanwhile, the way Tory ministers have handled sensitive information remained in the spotlight.
Ms Braverman was forced to quit as Home Secretary under Liz Truss after she emailed a potentially market-sensitive draft written ministerial statement to veteran backbench Tory Sir John Hayes, a fellow right-winger, from a personal email account.
But less than a week later she was back in the role in Mr Sunak’s first Cabinet.
In another information security issue, it emerged in the Mail on Sunday that Ms Truss’ personal mobile phone was hacked by Russian agents while she was foreign secretary.
Mr Spencer said Ms Truss “clearly was hacked” but suggested all ministers used personal phones even if there was “some little man in China” listening in.
“We all talk on personal phones, don’t we, you know? I ring my wife, maybe there’s some little man in China listening to the conversations between me and my wife.
“But, you know, you’ve just got to be careful about what information you use on which phone and you get a lot of help and support from the security services on that.”
Labour will seek to question Ms Braverman about her conduct and issues relating to national security in the Commons, while the Home Secretary is also in the spotlight over conditions at the Manston migrant processing centre in Kent.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said full details around the breach of the ministerial code which led to Ms Braverman’s initial resignation needed to be set out to MPs.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There is a blunt immediate question, which is how many other security breaches have there been? How many other security lapses has she been involved in? And that’s the most important question.”
Another issue dating to Ms Truss’ chaotic seven-week period in charge could also come back to cause trouble in Tory ranks, with Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle expected to receive a report on the stormy scenes in Parliament on the evening before her resignation.
Tory MPs were reportedly manhandled in the voting lobbies as Ms Truss’ administration forced them to oppose a Labour motion on fracking, events which contributed to the collapse in support for the prime minister.
On Saturday Ms Murty wore fluffy slippers as she oversaw movers unpacking the family’s furniture into No10.
A casually dressed Ms Murty, wearing grey leggings, a light grey jumper and a black fluffy gilet as well as her £42 White Company faux fur sliders, oversaw workers from Bishop’s Move unloading what seemed to be an upright piano, a double mattress and a barbecue, as well as smaller boxes of possessions.
The Sunak family has chosen to return to the No10 flat – where they lived while Mr Sunak was Chancellor of the Exchequer – instead of moving into the more spacious flat in No11 as has been the custom for prime ministers since 1997, when Sir Tony Blair swept to power.
As two moving vans parked outside the house this morning, the newly appointed Chairman of the Conservative Party Nadhim Zahawi was also photographed walking past in a matching navy tracksuit and a green baseball cap.
Yesterday, Ms Murty, a British-born Indian heiress and fashion designer, was spotted leaving the couple’s London home sporting a black baseball cap, a white long-sleeved sweatshirt, black tracksuit bottoms and black sliders.
Akshata Murty, looking casual in fur sliders, grey leggings, a light grey jumper and a black fluffy gilet, was photographed outside Downing Street this morning as she prepared to move back into No10
Ms Murty, a British-born Indian heiress and fashion designer, was pictured walking into No10 for the first time since her husband became Prime Minister this week
One picture shows the Prime Minister’s wife talking to workers from removal firm Bishop’s Move as they prepare to take what looks like an upright piano off the lorry and into the house
One photograph shows movers carrying a double mattress through the iconic black Number 10 door
Speculation was rife over whether the family would revert to previous living arrangements, with Mr Sunak splitting his time between Downing Street and his house in west London.
In April Mr Sunak, his wife Akshata Murty, their daughters Krishna and Anoushka and family labrador Nova moved out to be closer to the children’s £22,000-a-year private school.
Coming around the same time that news emerged that Mr Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, had claimed ‘non-dom’ tax status, reportedly saving her millions, there was speculation the move was linked to a wish to avoid media attention, although Mr Sunak denied that at the time.
But earlier this week, Mr Sunak’s press secretary told reporters: ‘They will be moving into the No 10 flat, where they used to live.’
Asked whether the family plans to redecorate the flat, his press secretary said: ‘Not that I’m aware of.’
It means that they will not live in the flat above No11, which was renovated by Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie for an estimated £200,000 in the so-called ‘wallpapergate’ scandal – which notoriously involved gold wallpaper that cost thousands of pounds.
However, Mr Sunak is still keeping the London townhouse, and if he wants to get away from Downing Street, he will be able to spend weekends at the Prime Minister’s official country estate, Chequers, with his family, as well as spending time at their London properties and their constituency home in North Yorkshire.
The removal van looked stuffed full of boxes, as the Sunak family moved their furniture back into Downing Street after just six months away
Another photograph shows a Bishop’s Move worker dragging what looks like a covered barbeque along the Downing Street pavement
Two Bishop’s Move removal vans were parked on Downing Street this morning, with Ms Murty pictured instructing workers as they carried her furniture into the flat
The newly appointed Chairman of the Conservative Party Nadhim Zahawi was photographed walking past one of the removal vans in a matching navy tracksuit and a green baseball cap
Akshata Murty was spotted for the first time since he became Prime Minister yesterday, leaving their London home in tracksuit bottoms and sliders
Mr Sunak, whose family has an estimated wealth of £730million, will also have to decide whether to draw his full prime ministerial salary of £164,080 or to take a voluntary pay cut as a symbolic gesture in the current cost of living crisis.
Downing Street has been home to the leader of the UK Government since 1735 and has been the headquarters from which the nation’s leaders have navigated world wars, financial crises and pandemics.
Sir Tony Blair was the first to do opt for the No11 flat when he entered office in 1997 – and his successors Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson opted to follow suit.
The chief whip of the ruling party has also been known to live at 9 Downing Street (although the official residence of this position is Number 12).
After housing Prime Ministers for nearly 300 years, it is perhaps unsurprising that the building has had several renovations – as well as an intense restoration.
In April Mr Sunak, his wife Akshata Murty, their daughters Krishna, 11, and Anoushka, nine (pictured at a campaigning event in Grantham in July) and family labrador Nova moved out to be closer to the children’s £22,000-a-year private school
Then-chancellor Rishi Sunak holding the budget box inside his official residence at 11 Downing Street in March last year
The building was determined to have serious structural problems at the end of the Second World War, including sloping walls and twisted door frames.
Eventually, during Harold MacMillan’s tenure, 10 Downing Street was restored in a project costing around £1million which took three years to complete. Since then, the structural problems seem to have largely been kept at bay however some of the building’s most famous reception rooms have been renovated by different leaders.
During her 11 years in office, Margaret Thatcher oversaw renovations to the White Drawing Room and the Terracotta Room – both of which are used to host important guests.
The latter, on the first floor of Number 10, was actually called the Blue Room when Mrs Thatcher first took office in 1979 – but she decided she preferred the warm tones of an orange hue in the reception space.
The renovation was carried out at the end of the 1980s when Mrs Thatcher was close to the end of her time in office and she hired interior designer Quinlan Terry to carry out the work. The space itself was first used as a dining room by Sir Robert Walpole, who was the UK’s first prime minister.
David Cameron speaks with ex-German Chancellor Angela Merkel at his flat at Number 11 Downing Street in February 2014
Gordon Brown is pictured in the kitchen of the Number 11 Downing Street flat in October 2008, after moving in a year earlier
Having lived at 10 Downing Street for so long, Mrs Thatcher left her mark on the residence and now has a room named after her in the property.
The Thatcher Room was used as her personal study during her time in office, and a painting of her hangs on the wall inside.
It’s not just the interior of Number 10 that has an impressive history – with the property’s rose garden being the site of several historic press conferences over the years.
When Sir Tony left office in 2007, to hand over the reins to Mr Brown, he hosted a farewell reception there.
In more recent memory, the British media gathered in the rose garden during the pandemic, to attend a press conference hosted by Mr Johnson’s former adviser, Dominic Cummings, after it was revealed he had broken lockdown rules to drive from London to Durham after he had tested positive for Covid in 2020.
The family billions of Rishi’s in-laws: PM’s wife’s family boast a combined ‘£5bn’ fortune – from AI tech firms to Wendy’s burgers, Jamie Oliver restaurants and Eton tailcoats (not to mention degrees from Harvard, Stanford AND Oxford)
BY JACK WRIGHT FOR MAILONLINE
The extraordinary wealth of the wider family of Britain’s super-rich Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his billionaire heiress wife Akshata Murty is laid bare today.
With an estimated net fortune of £730million that includes multiple properties in Britain and the US, a string of business interests and even a fleet of cars including a ‘high-spec’ Range Rover, a ‘top-of-the-range’ Lexus and a BMW, the Oxbridge former Goldman Sachs banker and his Stanford-educated spouse are by far the wealthiest occupants of Downing Street in history.
Indeed, Ms Murty is said to be wealthier than even King Charles III due to her £430million stake in her billionaire tycoon father Narayana Murthy’s IT empire.
She has also continued to hold stakes in businesses over the years including a joint venture with Amazon, Cloudtail, in India worth £900million a year, a project she and Rishi set up together, Catamaran Ventures UK, shares in the firm which runs Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria and burger chain Wendy’s in India, and Etonian tailor New & Lingwood, which makes pupils’ tailcoats costing £2,500 each.
Rishi’s father-in-law, dubbed ‘India’s Bill Gates’ due to his role pioneering the country’s tech boom, was recently ranked the sixth richest person in India and the 654th in the world after his remarkable success in founding Bangalore-based IT firm Infosys in the 1980s, now a £9.6billion multinational that employs more than 345,000 people.
While Akshata’s father amassed his estimated £3.9billion wealth, her mother Sudha became the first female engineer to work for India’s biggest car manufacturer TELCO.
At their daughter’s wedding to Rishi in 2009, more than 1,000 guests were invited, including Indian actor Girish Karnad, cricketers Anil Kumble and Syed Kirmani, former champion badminton player Prakash Padukone, business tycoon Azim Premji, known as the tsar of the Indian IT industry, and billionaire entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chair of a biotechnology company based in Bangalore.
But it perhaps may surprise people to know that, despite their eyewatering wealth, Mr Sunak’s parents-in-law are introverts who live modestly, do their own dishes and enjoy nothing more than reading books, according to the account of their lives described in Sudha’s 2017 book Three Thousand Stitches.
While their ambitious classic middle-class south Indian parents pursued their careers, Akshata and her brother Rohan Murty, were largely raised by their paternal grandparents.
A child prodigy, Rohan started computer coding at the age of eight before studying a PhD at Harvard and becoming a junior fellow at the prestigious university. He later joined the family company in 2013, before stepping down amid claims by Infosys employees of nepotism at the time. A year later, he founded AI firm Soroco, of which his sister Akshata is listed as a director of its UK arm. In 2013, it was reported that he owned shares in the family business worth $347million.
Rohan married his first wife, Lakshmi Venu, daughter of TVS Motors Chairman Venu Srinivasan, in June 2011. The couple divorced four years later, before Rohan married Aparna Krishnan, the daughter of Kochi-based retired SBI employee Savithri Krishnan and former Indian Navy officer Commander KR Krishnan, in December 2019.
Their uncle Shrinivas Kulkarni is an award-winning professor of astronomy and planetary science at Caltech, with an estimated salary of £173,000.
Just as her family worked long and hard, the Prime Minister’s own parents and grandparents strove to make better lives for themselves.
The extraordinary wealth of the wider family of Rishi Sunak and his billionaire heiress wife Akshata Murty is laid bare today
Narayana and Sudha Murthy at the wedding reception of their daughter Akshata and Rishi Sunak
Narayana Murthy pictured with David Cameron at the Infosys Campus in Bangalore in July 2010
Akshata’s brother Rohan Murty (left) is a Harvard fellow who founded AI company Soroco. Their uncle Shrinivas Kulkarni (right) is an awarding-winning professor of astronomy at Caltech
Rishi Sunak alongside his billionaire heiress wife Akshata Murthy
This is the extraordinary web of homes and businesses with links to Mr Sunak and his wife Akshata
Akshata with Rishi at their wedding reception in 2009. The pair met at Stanford University
The future Prime Minister’s grandmother Sraksha, who grew up speaking Swahili in a remote hut in Tanzania, where there was a small Punjabi community, took the courageous decision to sell her wedding jewellery to buy a one-way ticket to the UK in 1966.
She travelled alone, leaving behind her husband and young children, made her way to Leicester and found work as a book-keeper. A year later, she had saved up enough cash for the rest of the family to follow.
Usha, Rishi’s mother, worked hard at school and won a place at Aston University, where she studied pharmacy. She then met Yashvir, a medical student, via family friends. They married in 1977, moved to Southampton, and had three children – Rishi, the eldest, along with a son named Sanjay, who is now a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist and daughter Raakhi, who works at the UN.
Similarly, Mr Sunak’s maternal grandfather, Raghubir Sain Berry, grew up in a simple two-storey home surrounded by paddy fields in a village in the Indian state of Punjab.
One of five brothers, he migrated to Tanzania in the 1950s and then to the UK in 1966, where he joined Inland Revenue and was later awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 1988 Honours list in recognition of his three decades of work in the Civil Service, according to The Telegraph.
Three of his brothers remained in India, where they founded a spirits business in Punjab. Mr Sunak’s second cousin, Ajay Berry, now runs the family business, which has more than 200 liquor shops and reportedly sells alcohol to some of Punjab’s top politicians.
Multimillionaire Sunak claimed that his family car is a Volkswagen Golf, a relatively cheap and sensible hatchback seen regularly around the streets of London. But sources cited by The Mirror say the Chancellor owns four cars in total, and the ‘family Golf’ is the cheapest of them all by a considerable margin
Sunak is also said to own a ‘high-spec’ Range Rover (pictured), a ‘top-of-the-range’ Lexus and a BMW, which are spread out amongst the Chancellor’s various estates in both the UK and the US
Akshata has previously raised eyebrows with her high-end wardrobe. She wears a box-fresh pair of £445 Gucci trainers, a REDValentino shearling and leather coat costing £1,630 and a leather skirt worth more then £1,000, for a date night with her husband in Mayfair in 2020
Like many immigrant families, the Sunaks were evangelical believers in the transformative powers of education. With the success of the pharmacy, plus Yashvir’s income as a GP, they were able to send their children to decent local private schools.
Rishi attended Oakmount, a prep school which closed in 1989, then Stroud, another private school where he excelled in cricket and hockey. Aged 13, Rishi was, however, turned down for a scholarship to Winchester, the famous public school where fees are now £43,000 a year. He has since described it as one of his greatest failures.
He soon emerged as a high achiever with a ferocious work ethic, scoring top results in GCSE and A-level exams and playing cricket, hockey and football for Winchester.
After leaving school, he spent a summer holiday waiting on tables at Kuti’s Brasserie, an Indian restaurant on the Southampton waterfront. He then took up a place at Lincoln College, Oxford, gaining a first-class degree in philosophy, politics and economics and was regarded by peers as a somewhat nerdy teetotaller whose party trick was performing karaoke to Ice Ice Baby, the 1990 club anthem by Vanilla Ice.
The remarkable journey that has taken Rishi Sunak to Downing Street began not at Southampton General Hospital, where he was born just over 42 years ago, but at a busy roundabout on the A35 roughly half a mile away
After Oxford, Rishi took a prestigious graduate job at Goldman Sachs and moved to London, purchasing a £210,000 flat in South Kensington with help from his parents. After three years there, he won a Fulbright scholarship in 2005 to study for an MBA at Stanford – where he met Akshata.
Akshata, who pursued a career in fashion and set up her own business in 2007, moved to the US after school, where she completed degrees in economics and French at Claremont McKenna College in California and studied at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in LA.
Her company Akshata Designs, based on celebrating Indian culture, discovering artists in remote villages and working with them and their designs to create her own, ultimately fell flat and collapsed after just three years.
Mr Sunak recently admitted there was ‘clearly something’ there when he and Akshata first met – and added he is an enormous fan of rom-coms, prompting him to change some of his classes so that he could sit next to his wife.
Four years later, in 2009, they married in Bengaluru, India – and shortly afterwards, the couple moved from India Santa Monica, a beachside suburb of Los Angeles where Rishi helped set up an investment firm called Theleme Partners.
They still own a £5.5million penthouse boasting panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean where the family occasionally holidays.
It is part of a property portfolio that now includes a £7million mews house in Kensington, a £1million flat nearby in Brompton Road and a £1.5million manor house in Mr Sunak’s Yorkshire constituency, which the couple purchased after he won William Hague’s old seat at the 2015 election.
Mr Sunak and his wife also own other investments, including a business that funnels investments through Mauritius.
When it comes to wheels, Mr Sunak has publicly claimed that his family car is a Volkswagen Golf, but sources claimed earlier this year it was the cheapest of four vehicles he owns, including a Range Rover, Lexus and BMW, which are spread out amongst his various estates in both the UK and the US.
A £12,000 red Kia Rio which he borrowed from a Sainsbury’s employee for a staged PR stunt about a temporary 5p fuel duty cut he rolled out as Chancellor does not appear to be in his garage, however.
Despite the rags-to-riches nature of his family story, not to mention his intellectual heft and considerable work ethic, Mr Sunak’s vast wealth can sometimes provide PR headaches.
For example, from the moment he chose to enter full-time politics, after doing some voluntary work for the party while setting up Theleme, his expensive dress sense began to make headlines.
Mr Sunak grew up in Southampton and was head boy at Winchester College before going on to Oxford University
The new PM has regularly spoken of how his father, Yashvir, was an NHS GP in Southampton
He has also described how his mother, Usha, came to Britain from East Africa at the age of 15
This little store was for several decades called Sunak Pharmacy. Run by Rishi’s mother, Usha, until her retirement a few years back, it was very much a family affair, like many successful small businesses
After he had landed ministerial roles (first as local government minister in 2018) it became something of a stick to beat him with, with The Guardian’s fashion pages once devoting a page to his so-called ‘hedge fund haute couture’.
This year, eyebrows were raised when he opted for Prada loafers on a visit to a Teesside construction site. They cost £490, more than an average week’s wage in the area.
More awkward have been revelations about his tax affairs. While Mr Sunak’s reign as Chancellor during the early days of the Covid pandemic – plus his generous Eat Out To Help Out giveaway – was an undoubted hit with the electorate, his attempts to force taxpayers to start footing the bill for them were predictably less popular.
In March this year, he unveiled a Spring Budget that inked in tax rises and did little to help consumers struggling with the cost of heating their homes.
This sparked a rift with Boris Johnson’s Downing Street, which had grown accustomed to throwing money at political problems.
Shortly afterwards, it emerged that Akshata was a non-dom, meaning she had legally avoided having to pay tax on non-UK income, including dividends from her shares in Infosys worth millions a year.
Mr Sunak was also damaged by the revelation that he’d for some reason kept his US ‘green card’ – which gives the right to live and work in America – while he had been Chancellor. Once you get a card you are expected to make the US ‘your permanent home’.
The ensuing row saw Akshata agree to start paying British taxes on all her worldwide earnings. Rishi was reportedly devastated at his family being the subject of negative attention (he had also just been handed a Partygate fine) and according to friends came close to quitting politics.
Mr Sunak’s family moved out of their Downing Street flat. However, he insisted in a later interview: ‘The decision was nothing to do with what had happened. It was everything to do with the fact that our eldest daughter [Krishna] was in her last term of primary school and was meant to be able to walk to school by herself every day.’
Krishna is now believed to be at boarding school, which will doubtless provide yet more grist to the mill of opponents who want to portray Prime Minister Sunak as an out-of-touch elitist.
‘The money thing and tax stuff is now a massive problem,’ is how one insider puts it. ‘Labour have a policy of abolishing non-dom status, so will talk about it all the time. They’ve already nicknamed him Rishi Rich. All this stuff plays well on Twitter. It’ll get pretty nasty.’