"I have friends who are, you know, working-class."
Just days after Rishi Sunak launched his bid for Tory leadership, he faced criticism after an old video of him resurfaced.
A video clip featured a 21-year-old Rishi saying that he does not have working-class friends.
The comments were made in the BBC Two documentary Middle Classes: Their Rise and Sprawl, which aired in 2001.
Keen to showcase his wide social circle, he says:
“I have friends who are aristocrats, I have friends who are upper-class, I have friends who are, you know, working-class.”
Rishi then pauses before adding: “Well, not working class.”
— Kathryn Franklin (@DerbyDuck) July 8, 2022
He goes on to tell the interviewer: “I mix and match and then 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 chatting to them for half an hour and tell them I was at Winchester and one of my best friends is from Eton or whatever. And then they’re like: ‘Oh OK’.”
The video clip was posted by Kathryn Franklin and it went viral, with many criticising the out of touch comment.
One said: “It’s the privilege and entitlement of the few that is the root of so much economic and social injustice of the many in this country.”
Another commented: “No understanding of normality at all.”
Labour MP David Lammy said:
“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.”
Women’s rights activist Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu stated that outgoing Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson is also not a friend of the working class, tweeting:
“To be fair to Rishi Sunak – Boris Johnson is NOT a friend of the working class and quite unlikely he had any as friends but the working class voted for him anyway.”
On why she posted the video clip, Kathryn said:
“We first saw that Rishi Sunak clip on our local BBC Politics show back in March.
“We recorded it as we found it to be quite shocking and telling. I tweeted it at the time but I haven’t many followers so it didn’t get seen.
“I then saw Rishi Sunak’s slick campaign video in support of his bid to become PM and it seemed to contradict what he’d said in that video clip back in 2001.
“So I posted the clip again… It did take me by surprise how many people were seeing the little video that my husband Stuart and I had clipped but we felt it was a good insight into the potential PM candidate and we’re glad it’s been seen by quite a few people now.
“We don’t belong to any political party but we just think honesty, integrity and authenticity are important values in public life. All sadly lacking of late.”
Rishi Sunak was also interviewed for a book of the same name released in 2002. Speaking about his education, he said:
“I am very lucky to have been at these places, it does put me as an elite in society.
“I always consider myself professional middle-class, I don’t think being Asian is a defining feature.”
Rishi Sunak announced that he would be running for Conservative Party leadership a day after Boris Johnson agreed to step down.
In a campaign launch video, he said:
“My family gave me opportunities they could only dream of.
“But it was Britain, our country, that gave them and millions like them the chance of a better future.”