Rishi Sunak says he went without 'Sky TV' as a child

Rishi Sunak has faced criticism after he cut short his attendance at D-Day commemorations in France, as ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand reports.

Rishi Sunak has told ITV's Tonight programme that his parents sacrificed "lots of things" when he was a child, including satellite TV.

Speaking to ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand as part of a series of interviews with party leaders in the run up to the General Election, the prime minister was asked about his wealth and whether there was one thing he had ever gone without.

"My family emigrated here with very little. I was raised with the values of hard work," he said.

He added: "I went without lots of things because my parents wanted to put everything into our education."

When pressed for an example of something he had gone without, he said: "There are all sorts of things that I wanted as a kid that I couldn't have, famously Sky TV! That was something that we never had growing up."

Rishi Sunak reveals his parents were forced to sacrifice Sky TV when he was young

Mr Sunak insisted that despite being wealthier than the King, he was able to understand voters' concerns by speaking to them and introducing policies, like the furlough scheme, to help support people less financially secure than himself.

In the wake of his Tonight interview, which took place after the prime minister returned early from the D-Day commemorations in France, Mr Sunak has faced criticism for failing to relate to the British public with his comments - something Defence Secretary Grant Shapps told ITV News on Wednesday he finds "really surprising".

He said: "You can't walk in everybody's shoes, but here is a man that in a single generation, from his parents to him, has gone from being immigrants in this country to working hard, to putting food on the table, sending him to school, giving him every opportunity in life and they clearly made sacrifices along the way to do that.

"And I really think that we should be celebrating that, and I think it's really surprising that there are people trying to denigrate it."

But speaking to ITV News on Wednesday, Sir Ed Davey said he "can't quite find the words", in response to Mr Sunak saying he had to go without Sky TV.

"I lost my father when I was four, and my mother was widowed with three boys under ten," he said. "So, we had quite a tight budget."

'It just ran over. Apologies for keeping you' - Rishi Sunak sits down for his Tonight interview after leaving D-Day early

The Liberal Democrat leader became a carer for his terminally ill mother at a young age, before she died when he was 15 years old.

He said that while she was bedridden, they were able to afford a small remote-controlled colour television - which he described as "a wonderful purchase".

Sir Ed also responded to the prime minister leaving D-Day events early, saying it shows he is "completely out of touch".

"I think the Conservative party as a whole has completely lost the plot," he added, saying people were "fed up with the lack of integrity, the lack of honesty".

He added: "They don't understand how our country works, they're completely out of touch."

Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would "resist the temptation to be drawn into commenting on what Rishi Sunak may or may not have had when he was growing up".

Sir Ed Davey responds to Rishi Sunak's Tonight interview, telling ITV News that the Prime Minister is "completely out of touch".

The Tonight interview was recorded shortly after the Prime Minister returned from Normandy last Thursday, where he cut short his attendance at D-Day commemorations, leaving former prime minister Lord Cameron to stand in whilst he returned to the campaign trail.

ITV's Tonight programme was offered an interview slot for Thursday afternoon, with no alternative time slot provided.

As he arrived, Mr Sunak said: "Sorry to have kept you. It all just ran over. It was incredible, but it all just ran over, everything."

"I haven't seen President Biden's remarks," the prime minister added, but insisted that he had met lots of British veterans in attendance in Normandy.

"I spoke to almost everyone that was there, I hope," he said. 

On the Conservative government's record in office, the prime minister was asked what had improved under 14 years.

Rishi Sunak sat down for an interview with Paul Brand after leaving D-Day commemorations in France early. Credit: ITV

In January, a YouGov poll found that 75% of people thought the country was in a worse state than when the Conservatives first came into power in 2010.

"Well it's been very difficult for the last few years," he said.

"Just a few years ago, the Conservatives won a general election, people thought the Conservatives were doing a good job, otherwise they wouldn't have re-elected them.

"But what has happened in the last few years is we've been hit by two once-in-a-century crises. A pandemic, which we hadn't seen before, and then an energy crisis as Russia invaded Ukraine."

He pointed to education as something he believes has improved over the past 14 years.

"I am proud of the progress that the Conservatives have made. I'll take one example, which is education.

"Because of the reforms that were implemented, English schools are now the best in the UK and they've risen in international rankings by leaps and bounds. English school children are now the best readers in the Western world."

'English school children are the best readers in the Western world,’ says Rishi Sunak

On immigration, the prime minister insisted that he has wanted to bring the number of arrivals to Britain down since his first day in office, denying that his immigration policies were in reaction to the electoral threat of the Reform UK party.

"It's too high. Immigration that is too high puts pressure on public services. That's not right. But also illegal migration is simply unfair."

When asked what he thought of Reform UK's leader, Nigel Farage, he answered: "I've got respect for Nigel but...  at the end of the day one of two people is going to be prime minister... It's right that he's highlighted migration as an issue... I really don't know him Paul, I think I've met him once in my life."

Rishi Sunak denies he fears Nigel Farage, but does 'respect' him

Mr Sunak insisted that he did not feel intimidated by Mr Farage, and said a vote for anyone other than the Conservatives would "put Keir Starmer in office".

The full programme, The Leaders Interviews: Rishi Sunak - Tonight, will air at 7pm on Wednesday ,  June 12.

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