PM criticised for ‘excruciating’ exchange with homeless man during shelter visit

Politics

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has branded Rishi Sunak’s visit to a shelter “excruciating” after he asked a homeless man if he works in business.

Mr Sunak visited the homeless shelter in London run by The Passage on Friday and praised the “fantastic” work that the institution is carrying out during the festive period.

The PM got behind the counter and helped served food to people coming in for a hot meal – including a full English breakfast to one homeless man called Dean.

The following exchange ensued.

After a brief introduction, Dean asked the PM: “Are you sorting the economy out?

The PM replied: “That is exactly what I am trying to do.”

After Dean said that sorting the economy would be good for business, Mr Sunak then asked: “Do you have… do you work in business?”

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Dean replied: “No, I’m homeless. I am actually a homeless person. But I am interested in business.”

The PM responded: “Yeah? What kind of business?”

Dean added: “I like finance, it’s good for the city and when finance and stuff is doing well, we all do well, don’t we, in London.”

Mr Sunak then proceeded to tell Dean how he “used to work in finance” and how jobs in finance can now be found “around the UK”.

Dean replied: “Like law associations, stuff like that?”

The PM then continues: “Is that something you’d like to get into?”

Dean responds: “Yeah I wouldn’t mind, umm.. but, I don’t know, I’d like to get through Christmas first.”

Mr Sunak then asks Dean what he is doing this weekend.

“No idea, but I’m hoping [St] Mungo’s can help me get into some temporary accommodation so I’m not on the street,” he replied.

Reposting the video of Mr Sunak’s exchange with Dean, Ms Rayner labelled the conversation “excruciating”.

Shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy said: “How much more out of touch could this prime minister be?

“After the Tories crashed the economy, sending mortgages and rents soaring, homelessness is on the rise this winter. So perhaps Rishi Sunak should focus on fixing this crisis rather than posing for excruciating photo opportunities.

“The last Labour government nearly eliminated rough sleeping, the next one will finish the job and end it for good.”

While shadow Wales secretary Jo Stevens added: “He has no idea.”

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