Britain’s big-spending Chancellor and his billionaire heiress wife dined at an exclusive private members’ club last night as England’s lockdown ended – hours after Rishi Sunak hinted that tax rises are on the horizon to tackle the UK’s huge coronavirus-fuelled debt pile.
Mr Sunak and his spouse Akshata Murthy, the daughter of Indian IT mogul Narayana Murthy, headed to Loulou’s in Mayfair on a date night with their daughters Krishna and Anoushka at home in Downing Street.
And it looked like Ms Murthy may have also hit the shops on Wild Wednesday, wearing a box-fresh pair of £445 Gucci trainers, a REDValentino shearling and leather coat costing £1,630 and a leather skirt worth more then £1,000.
The dinner and drinks in Mayfair came days after it was revealed that Akshata has shares in her family’s tech firm that are worth £430million, making her one of Britain’s wealthiest women with £80million more cash than the Queen. Her father is worth an estimated £2.3billion ($3.1bn).
Mr Sunak, wearing a sharp suit and coat, looked a little sheepish as he followed his wife into the exclusive Mayfair restaurant and bar owned by Robin Birley. The couple met while studying at Stanford University in the US and married at a lavish two-day ceremony in 2009.
His night out at Loulou’s, where a G&T costs £20 and a main course sets diners back around £40, marks the end of an expensive week for the Chancellor, albeit paid from his own pocket last night.
Hours earlier he admitted to Times Radio there was a risk of tax rises as he said the scale of the Covid-related liabilities, which are set to hit £2.8trillion by 2025. And just last week the Chancellor used his spending review to commit the Government to spending £1trillion for the first time and revealed that borrowing would hit an unprecedented £400billion this year as he bankrolls the UK’s response to coronavirus.
Mr Sunak and his wife Akshata Murthy, the daughter of Indian IT mogul Narayana Murthy, headed to the exclusive private members club Loulou’s on a date night
The couple, who have been married for 11 years, were well dressed with Ms Murthy wearing a pair of £445 Gucci trainers, a reversable REDValentino shearling and leather coat costing £1,630 and a leather skirt worth more then £1,000
Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murthy (pictured together at their wedding in 2009) has shares in her family’s tech business worth £430million, making her richer than the Queen
Rishi Sunak braces Britain for tax rises warning the country’s huge coronavirus-fuelled debt pile could be a disaster if interest rates spike
Rishi Sunak has delivered another strong hint that tax rises are on the horizon as he warned the UK’s huge coronavirus-fuelled debt pile could be a disaster if interest rates rise.
The Chancellor highlighted the risk as he said the scale of the liabilities, which are set to hit £2.8trillion by 2025, makes Britain ‘sensitive’ to market forces.
He cautioned that no-one had a ‘crystal ball’ to say what inflation and interest rates will do.
Treasury watchdog the Office for Budget Responsibility gave a grim picture of the hit from the pandemic last week.
Borrowing is expected to hit £394billion this year as the economy shrinks by 11.3 per cent – the worst recession in more than 300 years.
The OBR predicts that ministers will be borrowing at least £100billion a year into the middle of the decade, as ‘scarring’ means the economy will be between 3 per cent and 6 per cent smaller by 2025 than it otherwise would have been.
It said ‘merely to stop debt rising relative to GDP’ tax rises or spending cuts worth between £21billion and £46 billion will be required.
Adding a penny to the basic rate of income tax only brings in roughly £6billion a year.
Ms Murthy and her relatives hold a multimillion pound portfolio of shareholdings which have come to light amid questions over the Chancellor, who met his future wife while studying at Stanford University, California, failing to declare them in the register of ministers’ interests.
The assets make Indian-born Akshata richer than the Queen, who is estimated to be worth £350million, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
She is the daughter of one of the richest men in India – billionaire N. R. Narayana Murthy – who has been described as the father of the Indian IT sector and ‘one of the 12 greatest businessmen of all time’.
Sunak is the son of a GP father and pharmacist mother who emigrated to Southampton from East Africa in the 1960s, and he studied at Oxford University before winning a Fulbright scholarship to Stanford where the future husband and wife met.
The latest revelation comes after Sunak faced demands to reveal details of his financial interests last month, after it emerged he set up a ‘blind trust’ when he was made Chief Secretary to the Treasury in July last year.
But critics said there was still risk of conflict as Sunak – reputed to be the richest MP – is aware what he put into the trust.
Mr Sunak’s wife is the daughter of an entrepreneur in India, co-founding technology company Infosys – in which she owns 0.91 per cent shares, totalling £430million.
Her family are also have a joint venture with Amazon worth £900million a year and shares in the firm running Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian and burger chain Wendy’s in India.
Before becoming Chancellor, Sunak was better known in India than he was in Britain, after he became a household name when he married Akshata, the daughter of a self-made billionaire.
Akshata’s father is the 51st richest man in India and ranks at 1135 in the world’s billionaire list, according to Forbes.
The father-of-two from Bangalore, India, graduated with a science Master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology before becoming the co-founder and chairman of Infosys.
He spent 30 years at the company before resigning in 2011, coming back in 2013 to pass the management to a CEO in 2014.
The tech giant was worth around £2billion when Southampton-born Sunak travelled on a Fulbright scholarship to Stanford University in California, where he met his future wife after taking Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford.
It is today valued at around £33.3billion, with Mr Murphy’s real-time net worth estimated at around £2.3billion ($3.1bn) at the time of writing.
He became a household name after he married Akshata Murthy, the daughter of the billionaire founder of a staggeringly successful IT company. Pictured: The couple at their wedding with Murthy’s parents
The Sunday Times Rich List details The Queen’s worth to be an estimated £350million
According to his company profile, Mr Murthy, whose wife, Sudha, works as an author, is currently on the boards of Ford Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study in New Jersey and the United Nations Foundation.
He has also served on the boards of Cornell University, Wharton School, the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and the Rhodes Trust at Oxford, alongside Yale University’s international advisory board.
On its website, Infosys says that Mr Murthy ‘introduced the concept of the 24-hour work day to the world’.
It states: ‘Mr Murthy conceptualized, articulated and implemented the Global Delivery Model (GDM) which has become the backbone of the Indian software industry.
‘GDM is based on collaborative distributed software development principles and has resulted in the delivery of superior quality software to global customers delivered on time and within budget. Mr Murthy also introduced the concept of the 24-hour work day to the world.
‘Under Mr. Murthy’s leadership, Infosys became the leader in innovation in technical, managerial and leadership training, software technology, quality, productivity, customer focus, employee satisfaction, and physical and technological infrastructure.’
It was revealed last month that when taking on ministerial duties the Chancellor set up a ‘blind trust’, meaning he did not know where his assets were being invested. Pictured: Sunak with his wife, Akshata, and their children Krishna and Anoushka
Sunak is locally he is dubbed the ‘Maharaja of the Dales’ (pictured, their magnificent Georgian manor in North Yorkshire)
Rishi Sunak, pictured with his wife Akshata Murthy, was better known in India than Britain before he became Chancellor
After taking a first in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, Southampton-born Sunak travelled on a Fulbright scholarship to Stanford University in California where met his future wife (pictured with her family, second from right)
Murthy’s Millions: Akshata’s family business portfolio
- Combined shareholding in tech firm Infosys worth £1.7billion
- Joint venture with Amazon, Cloudtail, in India worth £900m-a-year
- Shareholding in UK firm which runs Jamie’s Italian restaurants and burger chain Wendy’s in India
- Also holds shares in Koru Kids and is director of Digme Fitness
- Murthy is a shareholder or director in five other UK companies, including Mayfair outfitter which makes Eton College pupils’ tailcoats costing £2,500 each
- Akshata is also listed as a director of the UK arm of software company, Soroco, co-founded by her brother
- Investment firm Catamaran Ventures owned by father N. R. Narayana Murthy
- Ms Murthy runs fashion label Akshata Designs
Sunak and Akshata married in 2009 in her home city of Bangalore in a two-day ceremony attended by 1,000 guests.
Before entering politics, Mr Sunak, who is now a multi-millionaire in his own right, studied at the £42,000-per-year Winchester College and later at Oxford University.
During his time in business, he worked in California, India and Britain for various investment firms including Goldman Sachs.
He later set up his own business, Theleme Partners, in 2010 with an initial fund of £536million.
While building the hedge fund he spent a couple of days doing voluntary work for the Conservatives – which was when he decided he would like to go into politics full-time.
Speaking about his decision to go into politics, he once explained: ‘It was my parents who motivated me, but not in a political way.
‘My dad was a GP, my mum a pharmacist, and I grew up working in their surgery; in the pharmacy; delivering medicines to people who couldn’t pick them up.
‘People would always stop and talk to me about my mum and dad, saying, ‘Oh, you’re Mrs Sunak’s son, Dr Sunak’s son.’ And then they’d have some story about how my parents had helped them, or their parents, or children, and I thought that was amazing.
‘They had done the same job in the same place for 30 years, and it was clear that they as individuals were able to have an amazing impact on the community around us, and that I found pretty inspiring. And that was my motivation for becoming an MP.’
Every year Sunak and his wife throw a summer garden party for local villagers at their magnificent Georgian £1.5million manor house in Kirby Sigston, just outside Northallerton, Yorkshire – leading to him being dubbed the ‘Maharaja of the Dales’.
Sir Alistair Graham, a former chairman of the committee on standards in public life, said the Chancellor appeared to have ‘taken the most minimalist approach possible’ to divulging information.
He told The Guardian: ‘Perhaps Rishi Sunak should carefully read the “Seven principles of Public Life” to make sure he is fulfilling the two principles of “Honesty and Leadership”.’
But a Treasury spokesman said Mr Sunak had ‘followed the ministerial code to the letter in his declaration of interests’.
It follows Mr Sunak facing demands to reveal details of his financial interests last month, after it emerged he set up a ‘blind trust’ on becoming a minister.
The Chancellor deployed the arrangement, meaning that he does not know how his assets are being invested, when he was made Chief Secretary to the Treasury in July last year.
By setting up the ‘blind trust’ it means he does not have to disclose fuller details of his investment portfolio. Pictured: Sunak with his wife and children during the recent election
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is pictured with his wife, Akshata, and their two children during a Santa run
The couple married in 2009 in her home city of Bangalore in a two-day ceremony attended by 1,000 guests
Before entering politics, Mr Sunak, who is now a multi-millionaire in his own right and a graduate of £42,000-per-year Winchester College and Oxford University graduate
But critics said there was still risk of conflict as Mr Sunak – reputed to be the richest MP – is aware what he put into the trust.
It also means he does not have to disclose fuller details of his investment portfolio. The presence of the trust was revealed in the latest register of ministerial interests.
It came as other official documents revealed that he did not take his salary for five months when he joined the Treasury last year. He waived the £34,000 top up to his MP’s salary until just before Christmas.
Theresa May also attracted controversy as she made a similar move when she became Prime Minister in 2016.
And in the mid-1990s the Tories attacked Tony Blair as it emerged he used a blind trust, when leader of the opposition, to fund his office.
Former standards tsar Sir Alex Allan, who quit his role last week after Boris Johnson overruled his conclusion that the Home Secretary Priti Patel breached the ministerial code, is said to have signed off on Sunak’s disclosures.