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Why is Rishi Sunak giving his career in high finance such a low profile?

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Rishi “I am unashamedly pro-business” Sunak is noticeably shy when it comes to his own record in exploitative finance. The PM taking part in a live event on the networking site LinkedIn diverted Labour eyes to Sunak’s own entry, which omits that he’s a former investment banker. Nor does his No 10 official biography name Goldman Sachs or the hedge funds Theleme Partners and Children’s Investment Fund Management.

Both Downing Street’s official page and the PM’s site instead boast of a successful if nondescript career in business and finance and of co-founding an investment firm. With the Tories targeting Keir Starmer’s DPP record, Labour is digging to get down and dirty with the shy banker.

[See also: Liz Truss becomes the latest Tory MP to fancy a presenting gig on GB News]

MPs uninvited to Westminster Abbey will be allowed to stand in a pavement enclosure in front of parliament to blow kisses, wave, cheer, bow and curtsy when Charles the Unwanted rides by in his gold coach. The invitation to reverse the Civil War and obsequiously pay homage to the Crown is too much for Cromwellians. One told me he’ll be walking his dog, another that they’d be washing their hair and a third that the bathroom needs tiling.

Opponents who seek to rile Keir Starmer should call him boring – the “tedious” barb finds a chink in the Labour leader’s armour. Close aides refer to it as his Achilles heel. Starmer visibly winced when presenter Adil Ray fired a verbal arrow at the “maybe a little bit boring” spot on Good Morning Britain. To be witty and engaging in private is no defence, as Gordon Brown discovered. The leader’s office is constantly trawling for gags to lighten speeches and advisers avoid using the B-word at all costs within Starmer’s hearing.

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Declared “displaced” by the planned abolition of his Red Wall North West Durham seat, and so free to apply for other Tory constituencies, transport minister Richard Holden has wasted no time getting on his bike. Highways Holden is criss-crossing the country in search of a safe berth. Being roads minister, grinned an ally, refreshes the parts that other contenders cannot reach.

Labour apparatchiks have observed the influence of Tony Blair’s former speechwriter Peter Hyman expanding over Keir Starmer. Charged with re-educating Labour, Hyman – also the co-founder of a successful east London academy school – is credited with shaping the boss’s five “missions” (rather than goals, promises, pledges, etc). Hyman, hired as a contractor and paid above the standard salary range, opens sessions by urging attendees to think big and ignore how policies would be communicated to the media and electorate. That may unintentionally explain much confusion.

[See also: Rod Stewart has become an unlikely hero on the left – and it’s all thanks to Carolyn Harris]

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This article appears in the 03 May 2023 issue of the New Statesman, Beneath the Crown