Historian Starkey says Sunak ‘not fully grounded’ in British culture
David Starkey said the government led by Sunak – the first non-white prime minister – was “not interested” in the UK constitution
Historian David Starkey (Photo: Getty Images)
A controversial historian has claimed the prime minister was “not fully grounded” in British culture, as he accused Rishi Sunak of being “detached” in the build-up to the King’s Coronation ceremony.
David Starkey said the government led by Sunak – the first Hindu and non-white prime minister – was “not interested” in the UK constitution because of which “Parliament has not been properly represented at the Coronation” of Charles III.
He said Sunak was “invisible” during preparations for Saturday’s (6) royal event.
“One of the reasons that I think that a lot has gone wrong, for example, why Parliament has not been properly represented at the Coronation of a parliamentary monarchy, is because the Government simply isn’t interested,” the historian, 79, told GB News.
“It’s not interested in the constitution. You have a Prime Minister, I think a man of immense talent, of extraordinary skill, but really not fully grounded in our culture,” he said.
According to him, the Coronation would bring into the spotlight “far too much” the “differences” in UK society instead of uniting Britons.
He admitted his remarks were made in the context of religion.
“It’s going to be rebuilding the Tower of Babel,” the television and radio presenter said, referring to attendees invited to say the Lord’s Prayer in their own language.
“It takes an Archbishop of Canterbury called Welby to rebuild the Tower of Babel. Again, there is this profound problem now I think. Everywhere in the text of the Coronation service where you’d expect ‘nation’, it’s plural.”
Starkey’s remarks drew swift rebuffs from Conservative backbenchers who slammed him for questioning Sunak’s Britishness.
Former chancellor of exchequer Nadhim Zahawi said the historian’s opinion was “ill-informed” and “racist”.
Starkey “only needs to spend a few hours with Rishi or with me in Stratford-on-Avon or Yorkshire to realise how our culture is strong and has been rooted in diversity, pride and love”, Zahawi told The Telegraph.
Romsey and Southampton North’s MP Caroline Nokes told the newspaper that Starkey’s “vile and racist comment” reflected more on the historian than the prime minister.
In 2020, Starkey stepped down as an honorary fellow at Fitzwilliam College after calling Africans “damn blacks”.
He said in a podcast at the time, “Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain.” He later apologised for his comment.
Starkey had also previously claimed child sex offenders of Rochdale acted “within their own cultural norms”, a reference to the south Asian roots of some of the abusers.