Rishi Sunak insists he did not keep green card to move back to US | Rishi Sunak


Rishi Sunak has insisted he does not want to move to the US and that he kept his green card for years only because returning it was “not something I got round to”.

The prime minister said he had “acted in accordance with all the rules” when in possession of a US green card, which he gave up only in 2021, while he was chancellor.

A green card grants people permanent residence in the US. Sunak obtained his while living there and retained it after moving back to the UK, including for six years while he was an MP.

He gave up the green card in October 2021 before his first trip to the US as a UK government minister. His possession of the card, which was revealed in 2022, led to suggestions that he was keeping his options open about returning to the US.

But speaking to the Sun’s YouTube show Never Mind the Ballots, Sunak insisted he did not intend to return to the US. “The UK is my home,” he said.

There has been speculation in Whitehall that Sunak is planning to move to California – where he and his wife, Akshata Murty, own an apartment in Santa Monica – if he loses the general election.

Sunak faced scrutiny during his time as chancellor over the revelation that Murty had non-dom status, meaning she was not liable for UK taxes on her overseas earnings.

Rishi Sunak and wife Akshata Murty. The prime minister also spoke about her non-dom tax status. Photograph: Jon Super/AP

After her non-dom status was made public in 2022, Murty announced that she would voluntarily pay UK tax on her worldwide income. This is an active choice and does not stop her from being domiciled abroad for tax purposes.

Asked whether Murty was now domiciled in the US or India for tax purposes, Sunak declined to respond.

“I’m not here to talk about my wife. She’s not an elected politician … My wife has also addressed all of those things at the time as a private citizen,” he said. “As you know, the recent budget that the chancellor did announced that we were scrapping the non-dom regime anyway.”

Sunak was recused from policy discussions about non-dom status before the budget last month in order to avoid a potential conflict of interest. The chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, reduced UK tax breaks for non-doms. New arrivals will be able to avoid tax on overseas earnings only for the first four years of their UK residency.

In his interview with the Sun’s Harry Cole, Sunak denied being lobbied by Infosys, the Indian IT company founded by Murty’s billionaire father, over UK immigration rules. Murty has a 0.91% stake – previously valued at more than £500m – in the business.

In response to questions about his wife and wealth, Sunak said: “I can’t control who I fall in love with – and I happened to fall in love with my wife when I met her.

“Her family have done something incredibly special. Her dad created a company from scratch coming from absolutely nothing when he was growing up in India. It’s a company that employs thousands and thousands of people around the world, including thousands of people here in the UK, and I have nothing but pride and admiration for everything that he’s achieved.”

He added regarding Infosys: “Of course there’s nothing that I speak to them about. The suggestion otherwise is clearly ridiculous.”

Sunak said he had not yet decided when to hold the general election because he was focused on the public’s priorities. He has said in the past that he was minded to call it in the second half of 2024.

The prime minister also suggested that he was willing to commit to withdrawing from the European convention on human rights if it blocked his Rwanda deportations policy.

“I believe that all plans are compliant with all of our international obligations, including the ECHR, but I do believe that border security and making sure that we can control illegal migration is more important than membership of a foreign court,” he said.

A YouGov poll for the Times published on Wednesday suggested that Labour would win a 154-seat majority after taking more than 400 seats if the election were held now. The Conservatives would be left with 155 seats and the Liberal Democrats would win 49, according to the poll.

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