Just when life was looking hunky dory for Rishi Sunak along comes a downer. The Prime Minister is facing an investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner into his outside interests. 

The inquiry is thought to relate to a shareholding owned by Akshata Murthy, his wife, in Koru Kids. It’s understood that Koru Kids is one of many childcare providers which is likely to receive taxpayer funding from the new childcare scheme unveiled in Jeremy Hunt’s Budget last month.

In response to the news, a No. 10 spokesman said: “We are happy to assist the Commissioner to clarify how this has been transparently declared as a ministerial interest.”

However, No 10 may have inadvertently slipped up with its response to news of the inquiry because there are two different issues at stake here: the list of ministerial interests is separate to the register of interests for MPs, which says members “must always consider whether they have a conflict of interest”. 

So while Sunak may well have declared his wife’s interest in the childcare agency in a ministerial register, it is understood he should also have made the same declaration in the MPs’ register of interests. 

When questioned at a parliamentary committee hearing on 28 March by Labour MP Catherine McKinnell over childcare policy, Sunak said he had no interests to declare, replying: “No, all my disclosures are declared in the normal way.”

A few days after the hearing, Sunak wrote to the committee saying that his wife’s interest was declared to the Cabinet Office and that an updated statement of ministers’ interests would be due out shortly. In his letter, Sunak added that the list of ministerial interests “ensures steps are taken to avoid or mitigate any potential conflict of interest”.

Sounds to us like an old-fashioned muddle rather than any attempt to hide Ms Murthy’s investments, especially after the media stink over the discovery that she had non-dom status and he still had a green card. Whatever you think of Sunak, it’s doubtful the PM is trying to pull the wool over our eyes. He’s just not that sort. No, it’s no 10 that needs to wake up, and should have known the difference between ministerial and MPs interest.

Write to us with your comments to be considered for publication at letters@reaction.life