Rishi Sunak asks homeless man at shelter if he works for a business in awkward interaction
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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak found himself discussing the finance industry with a man experiencing homelessness in a bizarre interaction that took place at a shelter this week.
Sunak visited the homeless shelter in London, which is run by the Passage, on Friday, 23 December, when he praised the 'fantastic work' being carried out by staff and volunteers and stepped up to serve up some food himself.
He chatted with the people using the shelter's services, and at one point, asked a man whether he worked for a business. See the exchange below:
Footage filmed by ITV News showed Sunak behind the counter as the shelter served up breakfast to the man, named Dean, who told the PM he was 'hungry'.
Sunak assured the volunteers would get Dean some good breakfast and added sausages, toast and eggs to his plate, while Dean asked him whether he was 'sorting the economy out'.
After the PM responded that was 'exactly what [he's] trying to do', Dean pointed out it would be good for business.
Sunak responded: "Do you work in a business? Do you want some fruit?"
The questions prompted Dean to explain that he is experiencing homelessness, but said he's interested in business and noted that when 'finance is doing well, we all do well'.
The exchange saw Sunak explain that a lot of finance jobs are now based outside London, though Dean pointed out he was focused on getting through Christmas first and expressed his hopes that he might be able to find some temporary accommodation for the weekend.
The entire scene has left members of the public baffled, with one branding Sunak 'out of touch' and 'stone cold'.
Another viewer commented: "Am I the only person who can’t watch this? Who feels a sense of shame and embarrassment descending large enough for a whole country, that prevents me from putting the volume up?"
While Sunak has received a lot of backlash for his interaction, other people have stood up for the PM and argued that he was simply engaging Dean in conversation over a shared interest.
The government has acknowledged that celebrating Christmas in a warm and safe environment is 'beyond reach' for too many people, with Sunak assuring the government is 'determined to end rough sleeping and tackle homelessness'.
“We know that words alone are not enough," he said, adding that the government is investing £2 billion over the next three years to try and tackle homelessness.