Rishi Sunak open up about ‘sting’ of racism he experienced as a youngster and admits he was a ‘geek’ in school: ‘My mother was obsessed with us not having accents’

Rishi Sunak has revealed that his mother was ‘obsessed’ with her children not having accents in an all-out interview in which he opened up about facing racism as a youngster growing up in Southampton.

The Prime Minister said he had ‘experienced racism as a child’ and added that those from minority backgrounds were ‘conscious of being different’. It’s hard not to be.’

He told ITV about an instance during which he heard racist comments directed at his younger sibling, saying that racism ‘stings’ and ‘hurts in a way that other things don’t.

Sunak, whose parents were of Punjabi descent but was born in East Africa, grew up in Southampton and is the eldest of three children.

He revealed that his parents were “so keen” that his background was not “in any way, shape or form, a barrier” that his mother became “obsessed” with how her children spoke.

Rishi Sunak, seen next to his mother, was born to Yashvir and Usha in Southampton in 1980.  His parents were born in East Africa and met in the UK.

Rishi Sunak, seen next to his mother, was born to Yashvir and Usha in Southampton in 1980. His parents were born in East Africa and met in the UK.

Sunak said his mother became 'obsessed' with ensuring her children didn't speak with an accent and enrolled him in extra drama classes

Sunak said his mother became ‘obsessed’ with ensuring her children did not speak with an accent and enrolled him in extra drama classes

Sunak attended the expensive and prestigious Winchester College and said his parents took out extra jobs and loans to pay for his tuition

Sunak attended the expensive and prestigious Winchester College and said his parents took out extra jobs and loans to pay for his tuition

“One of the things my mother was obsessed with was that we didn’t speak with an accent and we would speak properly,” he said, explaining that this led to her signing him up for extra drama classes.

The Prime Minister added that he was proud that the UK had changed since he grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, and said he did not believe the type of racism he encountered in his youth was being faced by his own children today will not be

He said that he had never dreamed of leading the UK when he was younger, and that part of the explanation for that was the lack of ethnic minority ‘role models’ in politics.

Sunak attended a preparatory school in Romsey, near Southampton, before being sent to the prestigious and expensive private Winchester College. He became head boy during his time there.

Sunak has stuck to his schoolboy allegiance since leaving Winchester, and it was revealed in 2022 that he and his wife Akshata Murty had donated more than £100,000 to the school.

He said that he was ‘greatly aware’ of the privilege that attending the school gave him in relation to others, explaining that his parents – one of whom was a GP and the other a pharmacist – worked extra and took out loans to finance his education. there.

“That’s what Indian families do,” he explained.

The Prime Minister, seen here with his parents, said he was proud of the ways the UK had changed since he grew up in the 1980s and 1990s.

The Prime Minister, seen here with his parents, said he was proud of the ways the UK had changed since he grew up in the 1980s and 1990s.

Sunak, seen here in the front row, third from right, was head boy at Winchester and said he was aware of the privilege it gave him in relation to others

Sunak, seen here in the front row, third from right, was head boy at Winchester and said he was aware of the privilege it gave him in relation to others

Rishi Sunak is now married to multimillionaire heiress Akshata Murty, whom he met while studying at Stanford University in the United States.

Rishi Sunak is now married to multimillionaire heiress Akshata Murty, whom he met while studying at Stanford University in the United States.

He added during the interview that his friends at the time would have described him as a ‘geek’ rather than ‘naughty’, a description they probably would have stuck with.

It was revealed in The Times that during a recent visit to St Mary’s, home of Southampton FC, the team’s manager snubbed the Prime Minister by refusing to meet with him after the game.

Russell Martin said he had “no interest in saying hello” to Sunak, a longtime fan, after the game.

Aside from his childhood, the Prime Minister also discussed the division over illegal immigration that has hit the Conservative Party in recent months.

He claimed that the majority of the Party supported his policy of deporting illegal migrants to Rwanda, adding that the issue arose “passionately because people are frustrated”.

Rishi Sunak: Up Close – Tonight is Thursday at 8.30pm on ITV1 and ITVX.