General Election 2024: From Stormzy to Sky TV, Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer’s personal revelations

It’s easy to view the leaders of the parties as all policies and politics, especially during an election, but occasionally they reveal personal details about their life and character while on the campaign trail.

As the public look to learn more about the person most likely to be their next prime minister, here are the quotes that reveal the personalities behind the manifestos, from stories about their families to what keeps them up at night.

Rishi Sunak

The personal reveal

“I come from an NHS family. So like you, like my parents, they worked in the NHS. My dad was a GP and my mum was a pharmacist, and they dedicated their lives to helping people and I was surrounded by that growing up. What they instilled in me was the importance of how we can continue to help people.” (Sky News)

Throughout his political career, Rishi Sunak has regularly referred to his parents as his inspiration. They are both Indian immigrants who came to the UK from east Africa, and Mr Sunak often speaks about working in his mother’s chemist shop and watching his parents dedicate their careers to serving the local community.

The anecdote

“I actually have an appalling diet because I eat an enormous amount of sugar, and I’m very unhealthy in that regard, which I was talking to someone earlier today about. They were genuinely surprised about the amount of Haribos, Twixes and everything else that I get through, particularly during an election campaign.” (Sky News)

Mr Sunak admitted this week that he turns to sweets and chocolate to power through campaigning. He previously told Times Radio that his “pre-match routine” in Parliament is to load up with a Twix and a can of Sprite, then reward himself with a Coca-Cola afterwards.

The awkward moment

“There’ll be all sorts of things that I would’ve wanted as a kid that I couldn’t have. Famously, Sky TV, so that was something that we never had growing up actually.” (ITV)

Asked by an ITV journalist if he had ever gone without something, the prime minister revealed that he did not have Sky TV as a child. Mr Sunak is the wealthiest prime minister in British history given his career in financial services and the family fortune of his wife, Akshata Murty, whose father founded the Indian IT services company Infosys. Labour had previously portrayed him as being disconnected from ordinary people during a cost-of-living crisis.

However, while he attended the fee-paying Winchester College, Mr Sunak said his parents "wanted to put everything into our education and that was a priority".

Sir Keir Starmer

The personal reveal

“The only real fear I suppose I have is for my family. I’ve got a boy who is just turning 16… and I’ve got a girl who is 13. These are really difficult ages for children. If they were under five it would probably be easier. If they were 20 or over it would probably be easier. And my only fear really is the impact it’s going to have on them.” (Sky News)

Keir Starmer revealed that the thing keeping him up at night is not campaign rallies or manifestos, but what the political limelight means for his children. Mr Starmer told Sky News he doesn’t name his teenagers in public and the Starmers don’t do family photoshoots. The Labour leader said he wants them to have their own lives as much as possible, even if their father makes it to Number 10.

The anecdote

“Do me one favour, go and listen to it [Stormzy’s new album This Is What I Mean]. He’s trying a different thing in this album. I think it’s really good, genuinely.” (Telegraph)

Music is one of Mr Starmer’s great passions. Before politics, he attended the Guildhall School of Music and played the flute, piano, recorder and violin. The Labour leader often speaks about his love of Beethoven and classical music. But his tastes are eclectic, including Orange Juice, Edwyn Collins, the Smiths and Stormzy.

The awkward moment

“I accept I earn a lot of money in the job I am now in. But when I grew up my dad was a toolmaker, he worked in a factory [laughter from the audience] It’s true! My mum was a nurse and actually we couldn’t make ends meet, which actually isn’t a laughing matter… we couldn’t pay our bills.” (Sky News)

Mr Starmer has mentioned his dad’s line of work a few times, as well as his wife’s career in occupational health for the NHS. However, when speaking about his toolmaker father to Sky News, he was met with laughter. The Labour leader told GB News he was angry over the audience response, saying “it hit a nerve” and his dad “would have turned in his grave”. People on social media argued that it was hearing the remark several times over the course of the campaign that caused the groans.