Sunak praises ‘incredible strength’ of his wife and daughters during campaign

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has praised his wife and daughters’ “resilience and strength” over the election campaign, saying he “could not do it without them”.

During a written Q&A from users on the parenting forum Mumsnet, Mr Sunak also reiterated his criticism of the racial slur against him by a Reform UK canvasser, saying “racism stings”.

Around nine million people use Mumsnet, and the platform says more than nine in 10 of them vote in every General Election.

Asked about how he copes with the stress of the election on his family, Mr Sunak said: “I’m very conscious that they have put up with a lot, but they could not be more supportive, and I could not do it without them.

“My girls are at an age where they don’t care too much about what I do, which is lovely, and allows me to switch off when I’m with them.

“My wife has incredible strength. My life has been shaped by being surrounded by very strong women, and I’m grateful for Akshata’s resilience and strength most of all.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visits Holy Trinity Rosehill CE Primary School
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visits Holy Trinity Rosehill CE Primary School in Teesside while on the General Election campaign trail (Danny Lawson/PA)

A short question from one Mumsnet user said:‘ “Do you think Nigel Farage is racist?”

Campaigners for Mr Farage’s party were recorded making racist comments, including about the Prime Minister who is of Indian descent.”

Mr Sunak replied: “Racism stings. I’ve experienced it in the past and I’ve spoken about this recently.

“But I’m also your Prime Minister running the country two generations after my grandmother emigrated here, leading the most diverse Cabinet in history, and the fact that neither of these things are a big deal tells you Britain is a great country and we have lots to be proud of.

“With regards to Farage, I won’t put labels on people, but I will call out blatant racism when I see it, and there are clearly deep, deep problems in the party he leads.

“To know my girls may have heard their dad be called a “f****** P***” by someone campaigning for Reform is shocking. We are better than that as a country.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty at the UK’s national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day (Dylan Martinez/PA)

On policy questions, users were almost universally damning, asking the Prime Minister about a range of issues including the cost-of-living crisis.

One wrote: “You’re richer than the King. Your constituents had their public swimming pool closed (austerity) whilst you had your own pool installed at home. How can you relate to me or me to you?

“And how would you square these things with the idea that you know what’s best for the country when the vast majority of the population don’t earn enough a month to afford even one of your suits?”

Mr Sunak responded: “I haven’t lived your life, and you’re right that I can’t know your personal challenges, but I would hope that you can see from my actions and my record that I really do care – care about you and care about everyone in our country.”

A teaching assistant wrote a message to the Prime Minister stating that her school can no longer afford sufficient stationery, paint, glue, paper and art materials.

She said: “Staff do not have access to hot water for hand washing because we can’t afford to heat the water. We have no heating in our staff room because we cannot afford to repair or replace the ancient, broken-down heater.

“Paint is flaking off the walls and mushrooms grow in the damp corridor because we cannot afford to repair or rebuild the 100-year-old wooden corridor.”

She added: “Can you honestly, honestly say you are proud to have been in the party that has allowed this to happen? Because if I, or almost any other person working in a school had been in charge at any point in the last 14 years, we would hang our heads in shame.”

Mr Sunak said: “Clearly schools, and families, had a tough time dealing with Covid and the energy shock from Putin’s war. I made sure the Government delivered unprecedented support – through cost-of-living payments and energy bill subsidies – to help get people through, but these were two massive shocks we faced in rapid succession.”

Someone holds a copy of the Conservative Party General Election manifesto
A member of the audience holds a copy of the Conservative Party General Election manifesto (James Manning/PA)

One user said that the methodology used by the Conservatives to claim that Labour’s plans would cause tax rises of £2,000 a year would put the Tory manifesto as requiring £3,000 a year in tax rises.

The Prime Minister said: “This is not correct. Our manifesto commits to significant net tax cuts. Labour’s unfunded commitments are all in their manifesto and total an extra £2,094 of tax rises per working household.

“It’s in their DNA – Labour’s first, second and third answer to every question is to tax you more, and it’s notable that Labour have point blank refused to rule out extra tax rises in their first Budget this autumn if they win, meaning tax rises are coming very soon.”