Rishi Sunak Says He Is The 'Original Brexiteer' And Strikes Back At Nigel Farage Criticism

PM Rishi Sunak has described himself as the
PM Rishi Sunak has described himself as the "original Brexiteer" DENIS BALIBOUSE via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak has described himself as the “original Brexiteer” and hit back at Nigel Farage after his recent criticism.

The populist Reform leader previously claimed the prime minister “doesn’t understand our culture” when discussing Sunak’s decision to leave D-Day commemorations early.

In an interview with The Sunday Times – conducted shortly after YouGov put Reform ahead of the Conservatives in the polls – the Tory leader hit back.

He said: “My grandparents emigrated to the UK and then two generations later I’m sitting here talking to you as prime minister.

I actually don’t think my story is possible in pretty much any other country in the world and what it shows is, in our country, if you work hard, if you integrate, if you subscribe and adhere to British values, then you can achieve anything.”

Sunak also said the Tories delivered “Brexit freedoms,” and that he sees himself as ’the original Brexiteer”.

This is a challenge to Farage, who has often positioned himself as the champion of Brexit having campaigned to leave the EU for years from the sidelines.

Brexit has been largely absent from the election campaign so far, even though economists have shown it has shrunk the UK economy by almost £140 billion.

However, Sunak said: “I was proud to support Brexit and it was the right decision for our country because we can take advantage of the opportunities that are now ahead of us.”

He even took aim at Keir Starmer, saying he would “reverse all the progress” if he got into power (Labour is leaps and bounds ahead in the polls right now).

The prime minister also denied he was frustrated that the public had not recognised and praised him for his work ethic, especially in the wake of Liz Truss’s historic 49 days in office.

Sunak said this was down to a concept in Hinduism called dharma, which he described as “being about doing your duty and not having a focus on the outcomes of it”, adding: “You do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

He said he thought it was his dharma to serve the UK, although he admitted “it’s not an easy thing to do”.

When asked if he blames Truss’s unfunded tax cuts in her mini-budget for his party’s horrific campaign and struggles in the polls, he said: “I’m ultimately responsible for what I’m doing and no one else is. It rests on my shoulders.”

He then said the “tough time” the country have had is down to the pandemic and the Ukraine war, adding: “It’s nobody’s fault. That is just the reality of the situation.”

He also vowed to stay on as an MP, telling the newspaper: “I love being an MP. I love my constituents.”