But is it a firepool? Rishi Sunak's rural compound needed a grid upgrade to heat his new indoor pool

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Rishi Sunak's family home near North Allerton, Yorkshire. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Rishi Sunak's family home near North Allerton, Yorkshire. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
  • An upgrade to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's rural compound required a section of the electricity grid to be upgraded.
  • He had to pay for that himself – on top of what was once estimated to be a R285 000 annual power bill.
  • That was needed to keep his new swimming pool nice and warm, while others in the UK struggle to pay for heating their homes.
  • So far, nobody has suggested the pool has a fire-fighting purpose. 

A section of the United Kingdom's national electricity grid required a special upgrade to meet the needs of its prime minister, Rishi Sunak, The Guardian reported on Sunday.

That section of the rural Yorkshire electricity system now sports "a substantial amount" of additional equipment, plus a new connection running across open fields to Sunak's family compound.

All in aid of keeping his swimming pool heated.

The exact cost of the grid upgrade is not yet known, but estimates start at around R200 000, not counting the R285 000 or so Sunak will pay every year, by one estimate, in the electricity to heat the water.

The UK leader paid for the upgrade work out of his own pocket, The Guardian said, and reporting across the feisty English press has been at pains to note that there has been no hint that he received special treatment – at least not beyond what would be given to other stupidly rich people with country mansions.

Sunak and his wife are so rich it led to speculation that he had too much money to be prime minister; their family fortune is estimated to be about twice that of King Charles.

The family has a London home estimated to be worth around R150 million, plus a high-end apartment in the city they keep for use by visiting family. The Yorkshire manor house is for weekend use. The couple paid some R33 million for it in 2015, and have since spent roughly R9 million to build a new section with a gym, tennis court, yoga studio, and a 12-metre indoor pool.

There has been no suggestion that the pool is required as a reservoir in case of fire, or that it should be funded by the state to keep Sunak safe. North Yorkshire averages above 40mm of rain in its driest month, and is not known for wildfires.

From the archives | Minister gives demonstration on how to use a firepool

Yet news of the grid upgrade is politically unfortunate for Sunak and his party, which stands accused of wildly mismanaging the UK economy and causing undue hardship for ordinary people.

The Ukraine war has seen a massive increase in the price of energy in the UK, and this winter local authorities scrambled to create safe-haven spaces for children and pensioners in homes where central heating had become unaffordable.

Hundreds of public swimming pools reduced their opening hours to cut down on their heating requirements, and the public pool in Sunak's neighbourhood reportedly faces closure without government help to keep it warm.

Sunak's office has declined to comment on the swimming pool work.

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