Rishi Sunak has responded to criticism of his footwear after being relentlessly mocked online for wearing brown Timberland boots which social media users seemed to suggest were too big for him.
The prime minister wore the £150 lace-up boots to join Border Force crews in Dover where he talked about his plan to ‘stop the boats’. But his shoes almost stole the show at his press conference.
Many Twitter users started a “stop the boots” slogan, playing on the PM’s pledge to stop illegal immigration, which has almost become a government catchphrase.
Asked by ITV News during a visit to Washington if he felt teased by the response to his shoes, Mr Sunak said: “No, no, I’ve had those boats for ages, I’ve worn the million times. I can’t take these shoes on a dinghy.”
The prime minister is no stranger to making headlines with his choice of footwear; he was previously criticised for wearing £490 Prada suede shoes and raised eyebrows for wearing sliders in Downing Street while chancellor.
He will meet US President Joe Biden on Thursday in the White House but will also use his trip to meet senior business leaders and key political figures on Capitol Hill.
In an interview with ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana, the PM discussed the Covid inquiry and the upcoming legal battle with it, Ukraine and comments made by Prince Harry.
Giving evidence at the High Court in his legal action against the Daily Mirror, the duke described the state of the British press and the government as both being at “rock bottom”, with the government having “no appetite” for press regulation.
Mr Sunak refused to respond directly the the prince’s comments, saying “there’s been a long standing convention that British prime ministers don’t comment on matters to do with the royal families”.
But, asked to defend the government against Harry’s attack, he said: “I’m happy to say what my government is doing I said at the beginning of this year five priorities the British people to have inflate the economy reduced their cut waiting list to stop the boats.
“I think we’re making progress against all of those priorities. Just this week, I outlined how the number of small boat crossings this year is down by almost a fifth – that shows that our plan is working.
“But I’m not complacent. There’s work to do. But those five priorities I know are the country’s priorities. And I intend to deliver against this.”