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Why Rishi Sunak’s fortunes are unlikely to recover anytime soon

The Chancellor and his family have numerous business interests that could be the source of further damaging leaks.

By Freddie Hayward

Amid rising pressure, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has defended his wife’s status as a UK non-domiciled resident, which allows her to avoid paying tax on foreign earnings, describing reports about her as “unpleasant smears”.
 
Nonetheless, the story is likely to resonant with voters after Sunak forced those in work to pay more taxes through National Insurance contributions and was widely judged not to have addressed the cost-of-living crisis in the Spring Statement. Sunak, once the most popular politician in Britain, has seen his approval ratings plunge.
 
In a move unlikely to allay the perception that he is out of touch with ordinary people, Sunak has told the Sun he appreciated that some may find it “confusing” that his wife, Akshata Murty, is “from another country”. Sunak strongly implied that Murty would have to give up her Indian citizenship to avoid non-domiciled status. The problem is several tax experts have said that’s not the case: citizenship is not linked to non-dom status and becoming a non-dom is an active choice.
 
The revelations about his wife are the latest in a string of leaks that have tarnished the Chancellor’s image. As Ailbhe wrote yesterday, the question in Westminster is where they are coming from. The Telegraph reports this morning that Sunak’s allies have blamed No 10, while the Times quotes allies of Sunak who accuse his opponents of orchestrating a “political hit job”. When asked about the row, Boris Johnson said he thought “it is very important in politics, if you possibly can, to try and keep people’s families out of it” – a reserved response that is reminiscent of Sunak’s defence of the Prime Minister during partygate.
 
In any case, this story is unlikely to go away: Sunak and his family have numerous business interests that could be the source of further damaging leaks. The narrative has turned for the Chancellor and, for all his previous pomp and popularity, he looks lonely.

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