Beyond his stances on Brexit, Covid and the economy, Rishi Sunak’s other passions are less well known than his one-time nickname, Dishy Rishi, might imply.
Much to the public’s surprise, the UK’s geek-chic prime minister revealed in an appearance on ITV’s “This Morning” last month that he was a fan of Jilly Cooper’s famously raunchy novels, including the 1985 bestseller “Riders”.
“They are good,” he said, listing his favourites from Cooper’s “Rutshire Chronicles”, set in the world of showjumping. “You need to have escapism in your life, and that’s a good thing.”
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Sunak also told the Radio Times in 2021 he enjoys watching “Emily in Paris” and spent “a lot of time” watching Netflix’s hit period romp “Bridgerton”.
Here’s everything else we know about how Sunak likes to escape reality.
In love with the game
Sunak is known to be an ardent cricket fan. Growing up in Southampton, not only did Sunak “fall in love” with the game, said Tatler, “he fervently supported England over India at any opportunity”, despite his two Indian parents who had moved to the UK from east Africa.
He is known to be a fan of his hometown football club, Southampton, and a former season-ticket holder. Sunak once got into trouble as a schoolboy at Winchester College for sneaking in a television so he could watch England play in Euro ’96, according to History.co.uk.
In a manner more befitting a Silicon Valley tech savant than a (then) Chancellor of the Exchequer, in June 2021 Sunak told the Twenty Minute VC podcast that he gets up every morning at 6am to work out on a Peloton bike (£1,750).
On a more relatable note, he revealed his preferred soundtrack is the music of Britney Spears.
The exercise is perhaps to combat his sweet tooth; on the same podcast, he also revealed his penchant for a mid-morning pain au chocolat, or a Gail’s cinnamon bun. He also practises intermittent fasting, and enjoys pancakes at weekends.
Maharajah of the Yorkshire Dales
Ironically for someone who was given a fixed-penalty notice for attending a birthday party, Sunak is fond of a bash.
While studying philosophy, politics and economics (as a fan of tradition) at Oxford University, his “party trick” was performing karaoke to Vanilla Ice’s club anthem “Ice Ice Baby”, according to recollections from his peers reported in the Evening Standard.
At his £1.5 million estate in Richmond, north Yorkshire, he entertains constituency members “with lavish summer parties at which uniformed staff serve champagne and canapés”, said Tatler. Newspapers have repeatedly dubbed him the “Maharajah of the Yorkshire Dales”, perhaps owing to the manor’s ornamental lake.
He is hardly a Gatsby-esque figure of glamour, being a lifelong teetotaller. Oxford acquaintances recalled that he would “make this big thing” out of drinking Coke in the pub, according to Tatler. “I am a total Coke addict,” Sunak famously told sniggering school pupils on Westminster Watch, before clarifying, “Coca-Cola addict, just for the record.” In fact, said the PM, he even “collects Coke things”.
Into his clothing
He is still very much “into his clothing”, a former colleague told Tatler. “Sunak cut a snappy figure amid slovenly suits,” the magazine said. Everything he wears “fits perfectly”, and is “immaculate” even at the end of a working day.
“The multi-millionaire has also become renowned for his trendy fashion sense,” said the Daily Mail, “splashing the cash on expensive tailors” to fit his slim-fitting shirts.
He often wears trendy athleisurewear from upmarket ethical brands, like his instantly viral WFH grey hoodies, bespoke Italian shirts, and – to much mockery – £450 Prada shoes. No surprise given that his wife, Akshata Murty, is the daughter of a billionaire fashion mogul and runs her own label.
He has his shirts made by Italian brand The Travelling Artisan, whose founder Tullio Innocenti described Sunak to The Daily Telegraph as a “perfectionist” who has no fewer than three fittings to perfect his shirts.
He appears to enjoy property, with a portfolio worth an estimated £15 million comprising the Georgian manor in Yorkshire, a five-bedroom Kensington mews house, a flat on Old Brompton Road, London and a place in the sun in California, where he completed an MBA at Stanford.
Sunak “loves America”, said The Independent. In fact, “the former Californian resident’s love runs so deep it landed him in trouble”, the news site said, when Sunak was last year forced to explain why he had still held a US green card while serving as UK chancellor.
Wanted to be a Jedi
Despite the sobriquet Dishy Rishi, his character is a little more Hawking than Hugh Grant. “In keeping with his nerdy image, he also loves computer games,” said Politico.
A year after Sunak was made chancellor, he posted a photo of himself on Instagram with the caption: “Growing up I never thought I would be in this job (mainly because I wanted to be a Jedi).”
Mario Kart is his favourite game, Sunak told Jimmysjobsofthefuture. He spent most of his childhood playing Mario Kart or Street Fighter with his brother on their Super Nintendo SNES, he said.
When asked what his dream job would be, he answered Jedi Knight or an X-wing starfighter pilot. As he also reportedly collects replica lightsabers, one can assume a more than passing familiarity with the “Star Wars” canon.
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