When Rishi Sunak became Britain’s prime minister last October, Joe Biden called him to reaffirm the “Special Relationship.” But when the two leaders appeared at a press conference on Monday afternoon to launch the AUKUS pact with Australia, Sunak probably wished Biden hadn’t been so chummy.
“First of all, I want to welcome him back to California,” Biden said of Sunak. “He’s a Stanford man, and he still has a home here in California. That’s why I’m being very nice to him, maybe he’ll invite me to his home,” he continued, just in case anyone had missed where this home might be, “here in California.”
According to reports, the home in question is a $7.2 million penthouse in Santa Monica, complete with ocean views, a concierge service, fitness center and a “pet spa.” And Sunak got his MBA at swanky Stanford after earning a Fulbright scholarship.
In a classic case of a compliment backfiring, Biden seems to have given Sunak’s political opponents plenty to chew over. Since becoming PM, Sunak has been at pains to play down his West Coast, wealthy “tech bro” image, with more than a few hiccups along the way.
Just last year, the then-chancellor got into trouble firstly after his billionaire wife’s non-dom status emerged (the two famously met at Stanford University). The second awkward moment for Sunak came shortly after, when he admitted keeping hold of a Green Card until 2021, only giving it up after several months in the Treasury.
With ongoing efforts by Downing Street to reassure the British public that Rishi is, in fact, relatable, Cockburn can safely bet that Sunak won’t be thanking Biden for these friendly reminders. That presidential invite to Sunak’s Californian pad might just get lost in the mail.
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.