Rishi Sunak's best friend is working with him at No. 10: Who is James Forsyth?

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is working with the man who acted as his best man during his wedding to Akshata Murty. Who is James Forsyth?

Rishi Sunak best man friend James Forsyth political advisor Prime Minister UK politics
© Alison Jackson / Getty Images
Rishi Sunak best man friend James Forsyth political advisor Prime Minister UK politics

In the world of politics, genuine friendship is hard to find. Once you find it, opinions can get in the way and weaken the bond. Luckily, this was not the case for Rishi Sunak and James Forsyth. The Prime Minister's best man is currently working with him, and rumour has it he was the one who pushed for a snap election, which will take place on 4 July 2024, to elect the new leader of the United Kingdom.

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Rishi Sunak is working with his best man

In January 2023, while the government was still recovering from Liz Truss' short-lived premiership, Rishi Sunak moved his best friend into 10 Downing Street. Indeed, the government announced James Forsyth would become the Prime Minister's political secretary. He worked as an editor for a rather Conservative journal, the Spectator, from 2009 up until 2022. A cabinet minister told the New Statesman:

He’s totally trusted by Rishi.

The two men met while they were both students at Winchester College, a public school in Hampshire. Each one is also the godfather of the other's children, and James Forsyth was Rishi Sunak's best man at his wedding to Akshata Murty in 2009. Two years later, Sunak was best man at Forsyth's wedding to Allegra Stratton, where he allegedly met Matt Hancock and Dominic Cummings. James Forsyth was the one who introduced Rishi Sunak, then still an investment banker, to the Tories, and the Prime Minister repaid the favour by bringing his friend into his government.

Allegra Stratton, James Forsyth's wife, was the first one in the couple to go work for the Prime Minister's office, working as a Treasury communications officer. She moved on to become the government's spokesperson for the COP26 climate summit after the partygate scandal, which exposed former PM Boris Johnson's lockdown parties as he purposely broke social distancing regulations he had enforced as leader of the government.

In December 2020, she was filmed joking about an alleged party at Downing Street, which took place at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, when millions of people were forced to stay at home to avoid contaminating their loved-ones who were at risk. She issued an official apology soon after, saying:

My remarks seemed to make light of the rules, rules that people were doing everything to obey. That was never my intention. I will regret those remarks for the rest of my days and offer my profound apologies to all of you for them.

Did James Forsyth have a say in the snap election?

The political secretary is reportedly the liaison officer between the PM and his party, and everything goes through him first. According to Labour peer Bernard Donoughue, James Forsyth acts as 'an impressive and effective dragon at the gate'. Before joining 10 Downing Street, he was already cultivating relationships with Tory MPs for the past ten years or so. He was also the political editor while he was working for the Spectator.

Before Rishi Sunak called a snap election in July, the Tories were divided. On the one hand, the Tory Party’s chief strategist Isaac Levido urged the PM to wait until October or November to give them time to prepare their campaign. He wanted to allow the economy to get better before running for re-election. However, according to the Sun on Sunday's Political Editor Kate Ferguson, the PM's best friend James Forsyth pushed for a summer election as he believes Rishi Sunak has shown enough of what he can do to convince Tory voters.

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Sources used:

The Sun: FAMILY TIES Who are Rishi Sunak’s children? Meet the Conservative Prime Minister’s daughters he shares with wife Akshata Murty

Sky News: Rishi Sunak hires the Spectator's political editor James Forsyth as his political secretary

The New Statesman: Sunak’s best man: can James Forsyth help save the Conservatives?

Rishi Sunak: How much does he earn as Prime Minister of the UK? Rishi Sunak: How much does he earn as Prime Minister of the UK?