London: Rishi Sunak Saturday gave an insight into how his Indian wife Akshata Murty and daughters Krishna and Anoushka are settling into life at 10 Downing Street just over a week after he took charge as the British Prime Minister.
The Indian-origin former chancellor has overturned the norm by moving back into the smaller flat above 10 Downing Street, which is usually used as the home of the Chancellor of Exchequer.
In an interview with ‘The Times’, he revealed that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will be using the larger flat above No. 11 Downing Street as he would appreciate the extra space with three children and also that his daughters loved their old home on the famous street when he was the finance minister.
“We thought it would be nice for him [Hunt] to have that bit of extra space so I thought that was the right thing to do,” Sunak told the newspaper.
“But also, that was our home for two and a half years. It’s nice for us to come back to where we used to be, the kids know it, the kids love it. It was the home Nova [Sunak family labrador] first came to when we picked her up as a family,” he said.
“Everyone’s really excited about it. I met Jeremy’s kids last week. My girls are excited because they know that they’ve got a labrador like us. There’s a lot of kids, a lot of dogs,” he said.
The first British Indian incumbent at the famous address also shared the moment he heard about his predecessor Liz Truss’ hastened exit following a disastrous mini-budget.
He was out having a meal with his daughters at TGI Friday’s in Teesside in northern England when the announcement came and he decided to take the plunge after a call with his wife Akshata.
“I did need to talk to her about it. In one sense I had moved on, I was thinking about what was next for me. I was getting stuck into that,” Sunak told the newspaper.
“I believe very strongly in public service. That’s why I wanted to do the job over the summer. I thought I was the best person to lead our country through what we all acknowledge are going to be some challenging times. Given what happened [with Truss’s premiership], I felt the same,” he said.
At 42, Sunak is the youngest British Prime Minister in 200 years and feels a sense of pride being the first Hindu in the highest office of state – with a Ganesha statue adorning his desk.
“As chancellor I was able to light my Diwali diyas on the steps of Downing Street. It said something wonderful about our country that that was possible, but also that it wasn’t a big deal. It was in a sense gosh, this is great, but also that’s just Britain. That’s what you would expect from Britain. Hopefully it’s a source of collective pride across the country,” he reflected.
With one of the most daunting in-trays of any new Prime Minister facing him given the soaring inflation and a turbulent economy, Sunak struck a note of caution that the government would not be able to fix every problem even as he pledged to restore trust in the governing party.
“I completely acknowledge that trust has been damaged over the past few weeks and months. I realise that trust is not given, trust is earned. My job is to regain people’s trust. That’s what I’m going to set about doing,” he said.
“You have to make sure that as you’re doing things, you’re doing it in a way that’s fair and being honest with people that, of course, no government can fix every problem,” he added.