'He should stop pretending that he's Will Smith' - Alastair Campbell slams Rishi Sunak

'He should stop pretending that he's Will Smith' - Alastair Campbell slams Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak’s wife avoids tax through non-dom status

Alastair Campbell has criticised Rishi Sunak for failing to face up to his responsibilities as chancellor, and for comparing himself to Will Smith.

It comes after it was revealed that Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty was "non-domiciled" in Britain for tax purposes, meaning she by law is not required to pay UK tax on income from abroad. Sunak also admitted to holding a US green card while as chancellor until last October.

Murty announced last week that she will pay UK taxes on future overseas earnings and for the last tax year. Now, a Whitehall inquiry has been launched into how Murty's details were leaked to the media.

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Since then, Labour has accused the couple of avoiding paying potentially tens of millions in taxes while Sunak as chancellor announced tax rises for the public in his recent Spring Statement.

Speaking to Sky News today, Campbell, who was the Downing Street Director of Communications and Strategy under Tony Blair, said that it is only to be expected that Sunak and Murty should face scrutiny.

“In normal circumstances I would say it is absolutely wrong to attack somebody purely because they are members of the family of somebody in public life - even though I have to say the Tories did it to Labour the whole time,” he told presenter Kay Burley.

“But in this case you’re talking about the chancellor of the exchequer who is making rules and making laws about tax which appear [to] and in fact do benefit somebody very close to him, aka his very wealthy wife.”

Speaking to the BBC’s Newscast podcast, the chancellor previously joked about the Will Smith Oscars slap after the tax news first broke. He said: “Someone said, ‘Joe Root, Will Smith, and me – not the best of weekends for any of us’. But I feel, on reflection, both Will Smith and me having our wives attacked – at least I didn’t get up and slap anybody, which is good.”

Akshata Murthy and Rishi Sunak have faced criticism this week Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

Campbell took issue with the comments, saying: “If you’re in the big league of public life and politics, I’m afraid whether you like it or not, scrutiny is part of the job. Defending yourself in the face of difficult questions is part of the job.

“Instead of hiding himself away with his personal photographer, he should put himself in front of people like you [Burley] and face these questions… stop playing the victim, stop pretending he’s Will Smith or Joe Root – that nonsense he came out with last week – and get focused on understanding why people are so angry that they are having to pay extra tax despite a manifesto promise to the contrary, despite the promises of the Brexit dividend and all the other lies that he told and start focusing on them, instead of bleating about the treatment that he’s getting himself.”


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