Minister Left Red-Faced On Question Time As Audience Member Touches On His Personal Wealth

″How can he or anyone in his government understand what it is like to be in those shoes?"
Minister Andrew Griffith was questioned over his £10m home on BBC Question Time.
Minister Andrew Griffith was questioned over his £10m home on BBC Question Time.
BBC Question Time

A Tory minister was left red-faced as a BBC Question Time audience member suggested his personal wealth meant he could not “understand” the cost of living crisis.

The audience member asked science minister Andrew Griffith: “How can the gentleman understand the cost of living crisis living in his £10m mansion, when people are struggling day-to-day?

″How can he or anyone in his government understand what it is like to be in those shoes?”

The audience member confirmed she had looked up Griffith’s home prior to coming on the show.

Political news outlet Guido Fawkes reported this week that the former Sky executive is looking to sell his £10m Grade II-listed Westminster house, which was previously used as Boris Johnson election campaign headquarters in 2019.

The pointed comment came shortly after the government unveiled its Autumn Statement which ministers said would cut taxes – only for it to quickly become clear that taxes were going to be at a post-war high by the end of the decade.

Author and journalist Isabel Oakeshott then jumped in to defend the minister, saying the question was “unfair”, and joking that Griffith “gets out quite a lot” and is a “man of the people”.

Griffith replied: “I went to my local comprehensive school, my parents worked all the hours God sends, I work really hard, I was the first person in my family to go to university, I’ve worked hard throughout my life. I’ve also been very lucky.

“I decided, as a point of public service – unusual these days – to come back from business after a 25-year career, and try to lead this country to make it successful for my children, for your children, for my grandchildren.

“I think this is a wonderful country.

“I think we have the scientists, we have the best creatives, the best designers.

“But it’s absolutely true that there are long-term challenges.

“We have outgrown France, Germany, Italy and Japan. We have one of the fastest growing countries in the G7, but we’re not one of the fastest growing countries in the world.

“I want us to have a more prosperous future.”

Full Fact claimed in February this year that the UK had the fastest-growing annual GDP when comparing 2022 and 2021 – but when comparing quarter-on-quarter growth in 2022, the UK is the lowest performing in the G7.

The OECD also recently downgraded its forecast for the UK’s GDP growth in 2024 from 1% to just 0.8% – the weakest performance of all the G7 countries.

Griffith also suggested this “prosperous future” comes on the back of having very successful businesses which will “grow the overall pie”, quoting one of Liz Truss’s well-known slogans.

Oakeshott then spoke over Griffith to defend him, saying “we shouldn’t talk down success” and “good for you if you’ve got a big house”.

But the audience member hit back: “I wasn’t talking it down. I’m a child of migrants in this country.

“My father worked 21 years in the same factory, never claimed any benefits, I’m educated, my parents are totally illiterate, I’ve got two degrees, I’ve run two of my own businesses. So I am not talking down success.

“I’m asking Andrew, does he truly understand what it’s like to be on that breadline?”

The exchange ended when host Fiona Bruce cut in to say Griffith had spoken “a lot” and it was time to give more members of the audience a time to speak.

Griffith is not the only member of government to be questioned over his personal wealth.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak is the richest person to ever occupy No.10. The Sunday Times Rich List put his net worth at £730m when combined with the fortune of his wife, Akshata Murty.


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